A farmer in Somerset, England, has been using a Maremma Sheepdog to guard his turkeys, reports BBC. The canine, named Bear, is in charge of the farm between August and December. The dog works around the clock to protect the livestock belonging to his owner, George Ford. Three years back, Ford bought the dog specifically for the purpose of guarding a flock of 600 “free range” Christmas turkeys who live on the farm 24/7.
Livestock guardian dogs herd, protect poultry flock
Ford mentioned that Bear weighs around 50 kg and is “three to four times the size of a fox,” which makes him “a real deterrent for foxes, badgers and other predators.” According to him, the livestock guardian dog got along quite well with the turkeys from the start. “As soon as we got him we put him in with the birds, behind a poultry net.”
Ford said he panicked when a chicken once got into the canine’s enclosure. However, when he “put it back in with the other birds it stood up on its feet and was fine.”
The turkeys arrived at the farm in August of this year. Initially, Ford used to lock them up in a building at night. After eight weeks, they started living outside with the dog.
Another Maremma Sheepdog, Holly, recently joined Bear at the farm. The two canines live with the chickens from April to August and are split up upon the turkeys’ arrival in the summer.
“Holly’s not as gentle as Bear,” Ford shared. “She’ll just run through the flocks as if they’re not there but she’s very protective.”
“They [the dogs] stay out the whole time. We provide them with a shelter but they don’t use it – only in the summer for some shade – they’re built for the Alps,” he added.
Bear enjoys a strong fan following on TikTok, thanks to his adorable looks. Ford also handles the farm’s Instagram account, where he frequently posts videos and pictures of Bear and Holly.
In an interview with Daily Mail, he said that the sheepdogs are quite loyal to him and his family. However, Bear can be fiercely protective of his owner. “He’d be up barking and baring his teeth. It’s quite scary. If he doesn’t know you, good luck to you.”