THE true all-round ability of 21 working dogs was put to the test during the Australian Utility Stock Dog Society's Stock Dog Challenge at Reids Flat on May 28.
Producer David Crawford of Crawfords Collie stud was again the host of the event, which was located at his 15,000 acre property Numby. It was an ideal place for the three categories of the challenge which included a paddock class, a yard section and a cattle section.
Not only did Mr Crawford kindly supply the location and the stock used within the competition, he also put his skills to the test with his six-year-old Border Collie dog 'Crawfords Butch' who had a successful weekend coming away with top honours of first place in the level 2 (higher level) class.
"He is my main all round dog - he can shift cows and calves by himself and then he can go and muster sheep in a big paddock and come straight from there and back a yard," he said. "He is a real alpha dog - he likes getting the job done and be the only dog doing it."
Butch's breeding is a combination of Australian and UK bloodlines. His mum is Munns Peg which is by an AI sire from the UK and his sire is Munns Glen, which is more of an Australian bred line, according to Mr Crawford who also ran a full sibling to Butch named Crawford Chuck.
"Butch is one of our main sires in our breeding program and he has been used on outside bitches," he said.
"We do have progeny coming through in our pack by him that are looking good."
Mr Crawford said he believes the stock dog utility challenge is going to promote better working dogs in the industry.
"For example the trial incorporates a longer cast in the paddock compared to other trials," he said.
"And the fact that the trial encourages all-round dogs; I just think that is a real positive for the working dog industry in Australia.
"The other reason we support it is that trials like this need farms and areas that they can run the trial. If you don't put your hand up the challenges won't get run. We wanted to support the organisation.
"It would be great for anyone to get more involved with it, especially the top triallers that compete in each individual event; it would be great to see top handles in each discipline compete in more utility trials."
RELATED READING: Kelpie that sold for $35,200 lost in tragic on-farm accident
People travelled from northern NSW and Victoria to attend the event which had Mitch Bennett, Guyra, as the judge of the paddock section, David Crawford, Reids Flat, judging the Level 1 cattle section and AUSDS president Rod Cavanagh, Yea, Vic officiating the yard sections as well as Level 2 cattle.
Mr Cavanagh said the aim and purpose of the AUSDS is to foster the improvement in excellence and the continuance of high quality practical working stock dogs for both sheep and cattle work.
"The slogan is 'fostering excellence in breeding practical utility stock dogs'," he said.
"Having a common sense approach to stock work; getting the job done with sound stockmanship practices; avoiding unnecessary technicalities, and portraying stock dogs' all-round natural ability, are the features of the AUSDS Inc. Great support from experienced stock men and women who rely on dogs for their livelihood has eventuated."
IN OTHER NEWS: New disposal service for leftover animal medicines
The society have only been going for six years, but they are building momentum, with another successful event held at Guyra a month earlier.
The challenges are always held on property to allow trainers and their dogs to get a long search and cast in the paddock, and truly put the all-round ability of a dog to the test.
"Unlike most trial where dogs start with 100 points and every fault results in points being deducted - it's a progression of losing points," he said. "Instead an overall view of the dog's work is undertaken and our judging system is focused on assessing dogs out of a certain criteria.
"Each of the four aspect [long searching casts and mustering, paddock and obstacle work (sheep), yard work (sheep), and cattle handling], are of equal importance and each is worth 25pc of the total maximum score. We also try to make the results transparent."
Mr Cavanagh said they hoped to hold the Reids Flat and Guyra events annually, and they are looking to host one in the high country of Victoria later in the year after the snow season is finished, and one in Central NSW.
ALSO READ: Meet 30 sheep young guns under 30
By attending and competing at a AUSDS Inc Stock Dog Challenge, and from the recorded data available, stock men and women are better able to select the breeding dogs suitable to their needs, according to Mr Cavanagh.
"This selection of high quality practical working stock dogs invariably improves efficiency and ease of stock handling. It flows down the line to property management and national economics," he said.
Level 2 (higher level) results:
Stockmanship Award: Dan McLennan
Level 1 results:
Stockmanship Award: Casey Hayes.
ALSO IN NEWS:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.