Working with dogs

Host: Killili Working Kelpies
Written by: Courtney Robinson – Owner, Killili Working Kelpies.

On the farm we agist and market cattle for two different cattle stations and our boss also runs his own stud cattle on the property. The number of head on the farm fluctuates frequently as we regularly truck cattle in and out, either to or from markets or to be agisted.

2Walking stud Santa heifers to their new paddock.

We sow oats to produce hay for the livestock on the property, and in August last year we put in about 40ha of perennials, and there are plans to get more paddocks established over the coming years. Perennials are grasses that continue to grow every year as long as they are established well and are not over grazed/over stocked initially.

2.1George feeding out hay grown on the farm to agistment cattle, lucky me gets to open and close the gates.

As it is just my husband and I here it is essential that we have good, reliable staff to help with the cattle work. This is where the canine team comes in. I have four of my own dogs and George has two. He’s not as ‘dog crazy’ as I am . . . He would probably say he’s not as crazy all round!

Quite often we will get a sudden phone call from the Boss, and then there’s a mad dash to process specific cattle that a market has suddenly opened up for. So when that call comes through to George, I usually throw the dogs on the quad bike, and go get the cattle that fit the bill. George does the majority of the yard work while the dogs and I bring cattle in to be drafted, and put the cattle back out in the paddocks that don’t suit the market requirements. We are fortunate in this case to be on a farm as the cattle are always drafted into specific weight lines and sexes before we place them into their paddocks. That way it is easier to process them for market, and saves a lot of running around as we are always, already half ready.

2.2The A team . . .

If I didn’t have a few dogs to help me our work time would double as George would have to help me . . .

My serious interest in working dogs started in 2009 when I got a pup flown over from a breeder in Queensland. The original plan was for her to be a pet, and at that stage I had no idea of registered working dogs or about the different bloodlines etc. I was fortunate enough to have randomly chosen a reputable breeder.

Meg, the pup I had bought was obviously very keen to work from a young age, even though I had no idea how to start a pup correctly. When she was about five months old I took her to a Neil McDonald, three day Advanced Livestock Management and Dog Handling course. Attending the course was one of the most pivotal points of my working dog journey. Since then I have learnt more about kelpie bloodlines, and am a registered breeder with my own strain of working dogs. All of my own current dogs, (except for Meg) are what I have bred. Choosing a well bred working dog is as important as choosing either well bred horses to compete or work with, or stud bulls to put over your cows. It probably seems crazy, and sometimes I feel like I am crazy, but really there isn’t a single thing I would change and I hope you enjoy this five day journey with me and the dogs.

Until tomorrow, Court.