In Haut-Doubs, the wolf has multiplied attacks in recent months killing around thirty animals, mainly cattle. In the central Doubs, some breeders have been working for several years with guard dogs to protect themselves from predators, but from the theft of their animals. Meet.
At the Thouret brothers in Baume-les-Dames (Doubs), the ewes have been watched over for almost four years by patous or Pyrenean dogs. Dogs that are raised with the beasts and consider themselves one of them. The patou protects the herd against any intrusion. Purchase cost: 1500 euros for a dog. Three patous work on the farm, signs warn walkers of their presence.
In 2018, these farmers first took patou dogs to fight against sheep theft and lynx predation. “The lynx ate us between 5 and 7 ewes in the summer. We assumed that he was there before us, that there were fewer than now. A lynx will take a sheep weighing 50 kilos, it will take ten days to eat it. A wolf that sneaks into a herd will kill 25 sheep and eat the equivalent of a kilo of meat. And the next evening, he will start again” confides Gaël Thouret.
Grégoire and Gaël Thouret, know that the wolf is present in the department and that sooner or later, they could be the target of attacks. “If the wolf arrives, we are ready, we have the dogs anyway. We cannot say that we are not afraid of the wolf all the same, we apprehend the thing because even with dogs, we do not know what can happen” notes Grégoire Thouret.
While their herd will continue to grow, the two breeders have decided to equip themselves with a fourth dog. They are in contact with breeders and farmers from other regions to learn more about how patous work and share good practices. “We are going to take a patou in the winter to put two dogs per plot of sheep, one dog guarding the herd while the other will fight in the event of an attack. Having an extra dog makes them less tired.”
These two farmers are well aware of the damage caused by recent wolf attacks in Haut-Doubs. For them, the protection of herds by the patou is one of the solutions.
I think that for cattle, it would be an opportunity to try with patous, as with horses, if it takes too many proportions. There is an interest in trying these things. In agriculture, you have to be frank, some people find that everything disturbs, whether it’s a lynx, a wolf, a fox, wild boars for the damage. At some point, you have to learn to live with everyone and that everyone stays in their place, respecting each other.
The two breeders have learned over the years to use their patou, to train them. “It’s not a couch dog, we know that when you have things to do with the sheep, you have to tie the dogs up” explains Grégoire Thouret. In winter, the patous will stay outside with the rams otherwise they will fight if they are brought inside. In addition to the cost of the dog, a patou costs them in annual food the equivalent of 6 ewes. They say they are doing it financially.