Our work dogs are a big part of the team. They are a lot of help when it comes to moving cows- and they are also great companions, of course. Throughout history dogs have not only been man’s best friend but they have also been our best colleagues. Our farm dogs, Beau and Red, are no different.
We prefer using Border Collies as opposed to other cattle working breeds such as Australian Shepherds or Heelers so both Red and Beau are different types of Border Collie. We prefer our dogs to work cattle in the way that causes the animals the least amount of stress. This means that our dogs do not bark at our cattle or nip at their heels. They work quietly and efficiently so the cattle stay at a walk instead of causing a runaway herd.
Beau is Dean’s tricoloured Border Collie, he’s about nine or ten years old. At his age he is starting to transition into a more relaxed lifestyle- you could call it “semi- retirement”. Beau doesn’t go out chasing cows out in the pasture as much as he used to but he is still very active in helping Dean in the feedlot in the winter. Feedlot work can be a lot of walking- through pens to check for sick animals, trailing sick animals to the barn to be treated, feeding/ opening gates, moving cattle from one pen to another, etc. Beau helps Dean move cattle from pen to pen, whether to feed them or to treat them. A job that would normally take two or three people can be done by one person with the help of a dog.
Red is Lynn’s Red Border Collie, we think he’s around seven or eight. Lynn uses him to move cows in the summer and he sometimes helps out in the feedlot in the winter too. It’s been said that if cows being moved walk three miles to their destination, the horses used to trail them walk 6 and the dogs walk 12. Though, now that we use quads more, they often get to ride on the back for part of the way. The dogs help bring up the back of the herd as well as run to urge the stragglers along the sides to join. They can hold a herd in a fence corner while the riders sort the cattle, they can even help gather.
Most importantly, our dogs LOVE what they do. There isn’t much that our dogs would rather do than spend the day with their handlers working cattle. It’s a dog’s world, and we’re all just living in it.