Meet Mack the Maremma who protects his hens

Meet the sheepdog protecting hundreds of happy hens on the Western Downs

Agribusiness
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Mack the Maremma lives on KC Ridge Farm and protects around 450 laying hens who roam freely on the 77-hectare property.

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Cara and Kevin Jackson with Mack.

Cara and Kevin Jackson with Mack.

A four-legged friend is proving he can keep any flock safe, even the feathered kind, as he proudly looks over a brood of chooks near Chinchilla.

Mack lives on KC Ridge Farm, which has around 450 laying hens who roam freely on the 77-hectare property.

While the open space is great in ensuring the free-range pastured hens have a peaceful and natural life, it can be difficult to fend off potential predators like foxes.

That's where Mack the four-year-old Maremma Sheepdog comes in to make the paw-fect protector.

Kevin Jackson, Owner KC Ridge Farm said Mack has become a beloved member of the family.

"He's a Maremma Sheepdog, which are a breed from Italy known to guard poultry and fend off any attackers," Mr Jackson said.

"We are passionate about giving our hens as much space as possible to roam across our pastures, and Mack is like a protective big brother to every single one of them."

KC Ridge Farm prides themselves on producing eggs that are ethically farmed and pasture-raised by regularly rotating through paddocks and ensuring the hens have constant natural grass forage.

Mr Jackson said the sustainable way of farming not only has a positive impact on animal welfare, but also pays off on the plate.

"People notice the difference both in how our pastured eggs look and how they taste," he said.

"Your body will appreciate the true nutritional value of an egg from a hen having lived in her natural environment."

"The 'free-range' standard stocking rules might not result in animals that are especially 'free,' and for some consumers who believe in the importance of animal welfare and regenerative farming practices, this standard may not be enough, and these customers are switching to pasture-raised eggs."

The eggs produced by Kevin and Cara Jackson are so good, they're being poached by local businesses all eager to stock the item, including the Windsor Hotel in Miles and The Bun Hotel.

Owner of The Bun Hotel Jaimee Neilsen-O'Donnell said you can't beat the taste or freshness of local.

"We try to support other small businesses, and that includes farms in our region. Small farms also tend to put more care into their product."

"There really is no comparison, KC Ridge pastured eggs are far superior in quality and flavour, and they poach and flip perfectly," said Mrs Neilsen-O'Donnell.

KC Ridge has teamed up with Business Navigator Western Downs, which is a business growth advisory service supported by Shell's QGC business and delivered by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise.

Digital Marketing Advisor Ailsa Cass said it's been great helping a small, regional farm grow and connect with more customers.

"Whether that's spreading the message about Mack the Maremma, or Kevin and Cara's dedication to ethical farming, we're proud of how far the business is coming," she said.

You can find KC Ridge eggs stocked in smaller independent supermarkets and butcher shops across Toowoomba, Dalby, Chinchilla, Miles and Roma or you can order online for direct delivery from farm to your front door.

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