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Home DOG EVENTSDog Grooming Seven stone turkey dogs used to protect flocks in Somerset

Seven stone turkey dogs used to protect flocks in Somerset

by Bella Woof

image source, george ford

image caption,

The bears spend five months outdoors, with a flock of 600 turkeys guarding them day and night.

Two Italian sheepdogs trained to scare away bears and wolves helped protect a flock of Christmas turkeys.

George Ford, a farmer from Braddon, uses his two Maremma sheepdogs, Bear and Holly, to protect his 600 free-range turkeys from August to December.

“When Bear was a puppy, he would play and try to get birds in his mouth, but now he can be left alone with us all day and night,” Ford said. .

He added that without the dog, he wouldn't be able to keep the turkey outside.

Ford, who runs Nepnet Pastures, hired Baer three years ago to protect his turkeys, which live outdoors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

image source, george ford

image caption,

Bear (right) was recently joined by rescue dog Holly (left) and another Maremma

According to him, the large, white, fluffy Maremma was bred as a guard dog for livestock.

“This is an Italian sheep guard dog breed, bred to live with flocks of sheep in the Alps and protect them from wolves and bears,” he said.

“Bears are large, weighing around 50 kilograms, three to four times more than foxes, so they are a real deterrent to foxes, badgers and other predators.”

Despite its size, Ford said there were no bird deaths or casualties during Bear's early training.

“As soon as we caught him, we put him behind the poultry net with the birds,” he said.

“When a chicken came into the Bears' pen and I saw it covered in drool and lying on its back with its legs in the air, I thought, 'Oh my god.'

“But when I put him back in with the other birds, he stood up and was fine. And it only happened once.”

image source, george ford

image caption,

Ford said bears are three to four times the size of foxes and are a “real deterrent.”

Most of the turkeys have now been slaughtered and were delivered to the farm in August.

Eight weeks later, when they were fully feathered, they were released outside with guard dogs.

Ford said turkeys love to be “outside pecking at grass and pecking at bugs.”

“We used to put the turkeys in big buildings and lock them up at night for protection,” he says.

“Now we don't have kennels to house the dogs at night. So the dogs are there to keep predators away.”

Bear was recently joined by another Maremma rescue dog, Holly.

Pairs live outdoors with the chickens from April to August and separate when the turkeys arrive in the summer.

“Holly isn't as gentle as a bear, she just runs through the herd as if she's not there, but she's very protective,” he said.

“They are [the dogs] Please stay outside. We provide them with shelter, but they do not use it – only for shade in the summer – they are made for the Alps. ”

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