Lessons learnt from Neil McDonald – Part 2

Host: Glenforrie Station
Written by Aticia Grey – Manager, Glenforrie Brahmans.

Catch up on part one here

Lesson No 3. Handle livestock with parallel lines and understand the impact your feet and eyes have on the movement of livestock. 

Now this one is taking me quite a bit to get used to. We naturally want to go behind stock but considering where their eyes are positioned, this puts us where the stock can’t see us so they curve around to keep us in their vision. So ideally, to keep stock moving forward, we work them from the sides, and this is where terms such as V-points and flight zones become important. There are also some weird and wonderful moves that, once you become a coordinated with them and get your timing right, are extremely effective at achieving good movement of your livestock. This method of handling livestock will set you up with a mob that can be worked effectively and also be tolerant of young pups and less experienced dogs.

With the correct handling, livestock can become very cooperative which in turn leads to a safer working environment for the livestock and the people handling them. This course is also brilliant at labelling and presenting techniques in a way that is easy for managers and employers to pass on to inexperienced staff. As we all know, experienced staff are becoming harder and harder to find, so easy methods for teaching new staff is a welcome relief.

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Lesson No 4. HAVE FUN!

Now this one is the most important of all of them. If we aren’t enjoying it, why are we doing it??? Dogs love stock work and if you handle them right, stock can get a certain amount of enjoyment out of playing a few games with you too. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes and get things wrong for as long as you are enjoying working with your dogs and your stock, you’ll have plenty of wins too. And the wins make it all worth it, every single time.

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These are just a few things I’ve picked up so far and there is still so much more to learn and understand. So whether you are wanting to incorporate working dogs into your farming enterprise, start working a little better with the team you already have, try a new stock handling technique, or just have a great three days away picking up a little bit about everything, I can’t recommend Neil McDonald’s Advanced Livestock and Working Dog Schools highly enough. Taught with more fun, jokes, and stories about life than you could ever expect, I can guarantee it will be an experience you will never forget.

Thank you Neil and Helen, for helping me get my start with these wonderful four legged mates. Looking forward to seeing what the future brings and I know they will be by my side wherever life may take me.

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For more information or to get in touch, details are on Neil and Helen’s website: http://www.neilmcdonald.com.au

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