THE value of a good working dog pays dividends to sheep and cattle producers, and some of the most highly trained and experienced Australian talents will showcase their skills at a new event in the Central West later this month.
Over 400 working dogs and their owners from across the east coast will be vying for a title at The Working Dog Challenge Trial and Auction hosted at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange (CTLX) on November 26-28.
The three-day jam-packed event will host maiden, novice and open sheep dog trials, maiden/novice and open cattle dog trials, and a working dog auction, as well as a sire shootout.
Driven by the team at Bowyer and Livermore, Bathurst, and the CTLX, the Working Dog Challenge is backed by local support from major sponsors Thompsons Livestock Transport, Cowra, animal health company Zoetis, and Whites Transport, Orange, while the livestock are being supplied by local producers.
The event will not be affiliated with the NSW Yard Dog Association who made the decision in July to cease all trials indefinitely to ensure the safety of its members and their communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Event organiser Tom Card of Bowyer and Livermore said prior to this challenge there had been no trial and auction run at this scale in the region.
"There are a few reputable breeders and well-known dogs around here, so we wanted to provide an event in which they could showcase and market their animals," Mr Card said.
Local breeders have shown their interest, but the challenge has also attracted interstate participants with dogs coming from everywhere, including from Victoria and Queensland.
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New facilities have been built at the CTLX, including a special sheep trial and selling arena which has a screen that will broadcast videos of the dogs working on-farm.
Novice sheep trial judge Peter Rutherford, Stanford Kelpies, Bathurst, said hosting a competition and auction in the Central West made sense as there is a large amount of farmers around the region that need access to good quality working dogs.
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"It has been a long-time coming - there has been a few auctions around the place, but nothing to this calibre," he said.
"They have got the best facility in the Central West at CTLX and it is a central location, accessible to a lot of people and there are a lot of good dog handlers in this area."
Entering two young dogs and a female in the auction, as well as several dogs in the trial, Mr Rutherford said it is a really good time to be in the dog industry.
"Several records have broken in the industry in last 12 months, and the price of dogs is always correlated to the price of sheep and cattle, which have been reaching new heights," he said.
"It is good to be reaping the rewards - farmers are making good money, and it is good to see them spending it on making their life easier.
"A good dog will pay back ten-fold what you pay for it, by reducing labour."
Around 60 working dogs, including males and females, will go under the hammer on the Sunday, with both Kelpies and Border Collies on offer. It will be interfaced with StockLive and pre-works of the dogs will be livestreamed.
"There are six-month-old pups right up to seven-year-old fully trained working dogs," Mr Card said. "They will be lotted in breeds."
Including in the sale catalogue will be a donation lot from Nick and Katrina Foster of Koonama Working Kelpies, Boorowa, with all proceeds going to This Is A Conversation Starter.
The Fosters hope to put together a package of donated items to go with their donation pup called 'Bid' who is sired by Koonama Cracka - the 2020 NSW Yard Dog of The Year.
Cracka is also one of 13 dogs entered in the Sire Shootout which showcases the genetics of stud breeders who have dogs in the sale. A Sire Shootout Calcutta is also running on the Friday night.
Expecting to draw a crowd of spectators, there will be live entertainment and a bar on the Saturday night.
Mr Card said they hope to make it an annual reliable sale and trial event.
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