Blue heelers, border collies, kelpies and a mix of each have always been a vital part of our workforce.
Cattle and sheep dogs all have special instincts – and each of the breeds mentioned have their own skills which must be identified and nurtured by their owners to achieve the best working relationship (and happiest dogs) possible.
Australian Cattle Dogs or blue /red heelers (as their name implies) tend to work toward the back of an animal or mob (the ‘heel’ area). They are ideal for cattle which are slower and need ‘pushing’ along. They are incredibly intelligent, strong, loyal and very protective, and brave in the face of adversity.
Never EVER enter a house guarded by a ‘bluey’ without permission!
Border Collies are usually black-and-white and originated in the British Isles.
They tend to ‘roam’ in their working style – skimming the edges of the mob back and forth to keep the cattle from spreading out. Collies love a tidy mob, are gentle with humans, and tend (in my experience) to be a little less ‘talkative’ than their kelpie colleagues!
Mind you they are almost as energetic and look for all kinds of distactions if you don’t keep them busy.
Kelpies are an Australian breed but their ancestry can also be traced back to Scotland. They are similar to collies in working style – but look quite different, with their large, alert ears, short red or black fur and distinctive eyebrow markings.
Among the things to remember about any working dogs like these, is they REALLY need exercise. And if their instinct to herd is very strong, even that isn’t enough for them. Owners also need to be careful not to over-feed our working dogs during their ‘down-time’. I am often in trouble for ‘killing them with kindness’ if I am left in charge of their dinner bowls! (They need to be super-fit and reasonably lean-but-healthy or they can over-heat in the Aussie summer.)
And last, but not least, there are the puppies.
These are how most chemicals arrive on the farm. Sealed in thick plastic drums.
This is the smaller type, that smaller croppers (like us) use. They’re actually called Enviro Drums, but I went with D word! They’re refillable, so great for the environment. They also used to have a deposit on them of $120. If you’ve bought ten of these drums, you’re talking about a reasonable amount of money you’ll get back – a great incentive to return them.
This is the top of them – see that brown rubber ring in the middle of the black circle? It seals the chemical in. To pump the chemical into the boom spray, we stick a suction hose (or pump) into the top and it draws the chemical out. Great invention so the farmer doesn’t have to handle the chemical at all. It’s really safe.
This get’s poured into a drench bag, slung over our backs and a tick plastic tube runs from the base of the bag to the ‘gun’, which is inserted into the sheep’s mouth then we squeeze the trigger and the ewe/lamb/ram gets a squirt of the medicine (drench) and she’s away. (This is actually a process I write about in my new book Crimson Dawn!)
And that ends D for this week.