Alternative protection from invasive predators: Livestock guardian dogs and free-range chickens and pigs

Livestock guardian dogs are proving to be an effective method of livestock protection from invasive predators. Many farmers and livestock production enterprises are utilising the dogs instead of or in conjunction traditional forms of control (i.e. baiting, shooting or trapping) of invasive predators. Livestock guardian dogs bond with livestock at a young age and continue to live with and protect the livestock for their lifespan.

Many free-range farmers are utilising maremmas, a breed of livestock guardian dogs, to guard their chickens, pigs, sheep, and many other types of livestock from invasive predators such as wild dog or red fox. Maremmas not only actively defend the livestock but their presence can halt predator entry to the property.


Initial research we have conducted demonstrates that maremmas change their movement and habits when predator sign (in the form of predator urine and calls) are put in place. The dogs also directly ‘remove’ foxes. We would like to further our research into the activities of maremmas in and around free-range piggeries and/or chicken farms. We hope to learn more about interactions between livestock guardian dogs and predators using remote sensing cameras, cameras placed on collars on the dogs (i.e. GoPros), and GPS trackers on the dogs.

This project would require the student to travel around the wheatbelt and south-west, working with farmers and their maremmas. A large component of this project is field work on a farming practice, working with animals, and image analysis. If you are interested in this project please contact Dr Tracey Kreplins,