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Big Bird Makes Great Watch Dog
Emus don't look like much, but don't tell Sher and Jerry Thompson that. The Eagle Creek, Oregon couple keeps several of the big birds in their sheep pasture at all times to ward off coyotes, wild dogs and other small predators.
According to Sher Thompson, who sells Emus and other exotic animals as a business, Emus are fierce fighters that'll chase off or even kill most predators that attack sheep. At about 5 ft. tall, the birds are smaller than Ostriches yet similar in that they cannot fly.
"We bought our first one as a pet over three years ago and then went into the business of raising and selling them," says Sher. "They make good pets in that they have a great personality and are very tame, yet they can be extremely fierce when necessary."
Emus originated in Australia. They can run at speeds up to 30 mph and are often considered pests in their native land because they eat crops. They weigh around 100 lbs., and lay as many as 20 eggs apiece. The male sits on the eggs. The Thompsons say the birds are extremely hardy and that they thrive on a diet of grass, bugs and chicken feed.
"They tend to be very aggressive toward small things, such as cats and dogs and we don't let small children go near them alone," says Sher.
The Emu fights with its feet, which are tough and strong. When threatened by a predator, it lays into them with a drop kick. "After grazing for a short time with sheep, the birds become very defensive and protective of the animals. We haven't had any trouble whatsoever with predators since the birds went in with the sheep," says Sher.
A good-sized pair of Emus, 2 to 3 years old, sells for about $1,000. A pair of chicks sells for $300 to $500. The Thompsons also sell Ostriches, Rheas, monkeys and other exotic animals.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Sher and Jerry Thompson, Sweet Briar Farms, 29979 SE Heiple Road, Eagle Creek, Ore. 97022 (ph 503 630-3746).

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #1