Host: Farrcombe Contracting
Written by Raine Pugh – Owner, Farrcombe Contracting.
We have a team of 14 dogs which we use for work. The dogs travel everywhere with us, making it difficult when wanting a couple of days off in town. Interstate or international holidays are impossible as none of our friends are that keen to babysit 14 dogs! However to us they are part of the family.
Each dog has its own personality, story, and skills. Some dogs work better on cattle in the yards, while others are better when walking cattle or mustering. Potter has come from a family who has always had working dogs, his dad has always used them on their beef and sheep property in Goondiwindi.
During his time at Manbulloo Potter began to accumulate some dogs and also attended some schools to learn more about getting the most from your working dogs. Some people ask why we have so many, but when in work the dogs do big days and are rotated. For this reason it is preferable to have a heap of dogs so that they are able to rest in between rotations. We also breed our better dogs, often keeping one or two of the pups while selling the others to reputable homes.
Potter prefers Kelpies mostly but we do have a couple of Collies and some crosses. Currently in our team we have Licka, Monty, Miley, Spook, Tina, Poppy, Slim, Trixie, Disco, Freckle, Toots, Lala, Dora, and Debbie. Mostly the dogs are used as part of our weaner education program. We find that dogs take a lot of flight out of the cattle and make them more manageable. When using the dogs the weaners are taught to walk through gateways, travel through the race, to block up, and be steady. Potter is currently teaching me how to use the dogs, but the dogs often prefer not to listen to me if Potter is around as they know he is the boss.
As part of the weaner handling process, we use the dogs to walk the cattle around holding paddocks, coolers or laneways when letting the weaners out of the yards for the first couple of times. Overall, we believe and have found that by using the dogs to educate the weaners, the cattle behaviour improves. Some stations we service have noticed such a difference in the behaviour and flow of their animals that they often only want us there for the dogs. This is such positive feedback and it’s great to see the results several years later when the cows are still steady through the yards. Other times the dogs are used when there are uncooperative creatures in the yards when penning up or drafting. We use the dogs then for that little bit of extra encouragement.