(As posted at http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/tessthe-chicken-herder/ October 27,2014 ~~Top blogger for the week of October 27, 2014)
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Tess is a Jack Russel/border collie mix, with no training as a chicken dog. However, from the time she was a puppy, she’s been an asset to the Just Fowling Around chicken farm. She’s alert, cautious and seems to know instinctively where she can help with the chickens. She’s a fierce protector and will chase predators away without hesitation. She also keeps an eye on customers as they come to pick up their chick and chicken selections. She will watch them from the moment they take possession until the moment they leave the driveway, though she does not interfere, it is obvious she is well aware of this transaction.
When there are any chickens out free-ranging, Tess is on duty with her watchful eye to make sure they are all staying within her designated territory and not wandering too far from the main flock. If they do wander, Tess immediately herds them back to safety.
Visitors are always delighted to see Tess working for her chickens. She’s entertaining and amazing as she goes about her chosen duties, keeping all in tow.
When chicks are about to hatch in the incubator, Tess perks her ears and goes directly to the incubator to check the progress. She always lets Bro know there is activity. Even if he isn’t aware of the peeping, she hears it before they hatch.
As a constant companion, if Bro is working with the chickens, such as wing clipping or putting ID rings on them, Tess instinctively waits for him to finish with one, then herd another to him. This behavior is time saving and always amazing that she just seems to know where she can help and always does a perfect job of making her selections to herd toward him.
Though she’s a small breed, Tess chased a pack of coyotes off the property, not once but several different times, until they gave up and moved on.
Another time, Tess herded a neighbor’s chickens that had been purchased from us. She had not seen her chickens since they were taken from the farm, she began herding her chickens to Bro. She did not bother any of the other chickens in that flock.
Nightly, Tess goes around from coop to coop to make sure all are securely roosting and checks out the boundaries to make sure no predators are lurking. If there are any stray chickens, she herds them to their designated roosting area. First thing in the morning she is on the job for a full day of chicken surveillance
Nothing gets past her!
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