A farmer has found a new way to keep his turkeys in check – by herding them with a sheep dog.
Frustrated with foxes picking off his birds during the night, John Wright realised Molly the collie had a talent for turkey hustling three years ago.
With 1,400 turkeys to keep in check, John revealed it could take up to four people around three hours to get the birds back inside their shed every night.
However, four-year-old merle-coated Molly scrambles under hedges and takes just 20 minutes to round up the Christmas flock.
John, 27, bought Molly after “falling in love with her big blue eyes” and said her talent for herding came quite unexpectedly.
He said: “She was the runt of the litter but I just could not say no – she was so clever and figured everything out for herself.
“I took her with me one day because she follows me around everywhere and started throwing apples under the hedges to get the turkeys out because I can’t get under there.
“As I started throwing them left and right she started rounding them up – so I started shouting a few commands and she just took to it.”
Now the pair work as a team to keep the bronze turkeys in a tight semi-circle formation as they bring them back to their shed every night at sunset.
Molly responds to special commands such as “go” to round up those who have been separated and “speak” to get them all moving by banging her paws on the ground or barking.
The barking mad pup’s antics even stops passing traffic as drivers on the main road nearby stop to watch as the dog ferrets the birds out from under shrubs and trees.
John has worked with turkeys on the 200-acre mixed arable farm in Wyton, East Yorks., with his father John Wright senior, 73, since he was a toddler.
He said: “It would take three-four people at least an hour and sometimes two to get the turkeys in.
“But with Molly it takes 20 minutes because she gets under the hedges for us.
“She just seems to know when there are some missing.
“Once, when I was away on holiday, my dad had brought her back in for the night
after rounding up with her and she just disappeared.
“She had gone out and rounded up another 20 on her own.”
John puts Molly’s unnatural turkey talents down to the fact she was introduced to them in their pens when she was just a puppy.
He said: “If she is in the pen with them they never get scared – but they are used to each other right from growing up.
“If the turkeys are lying in the field she can just wander around and they don’t bat an eyelid.
“But she’s not interested in sheep at all. She has also had a go at rounding up our ducks – maybe its just a bird thing.”
The doting doggy owner said Molly had also helped ward off the local fox population on the lookout for Christmas dinner more than once.
He said: “We have about 12 foxes who regularly come out from Hull and when they attack don’t just take one – they take as many as they can get.
“But if they see her they don’t come anywhere near.
“It was a big problem for us in the past but we lose hardly any now.”