Dogs on Farms/Ranches

 The Worth of Trained Working Stock Dogs.

Grahamstown.   Why has it taken me 41 years to find the full potential of my working dogs?   With the help of other sheepdog handlers I have really learnt to train my dogs to a much higher level.   I look for jobs for them to do now.   I release the Boergoats ewes in the morning from the kraal and keep the kids behind, this takes me four minutes at the most.   If the two staff members do it it can take up to 20 minutes or longer.   One of the mothers jumped into a back kraal without moving from the gate I sent my dog to get her out.  Not something I could do in the past.     One Sunday I was in the veld checking on my stock and notice one of the Goat Ewes had had twins.   I sent my dog for the mother and  picked up the twins.   The dog stuck to the mother making her follow my bakkie.  In the past this mother would have disappeared into the thick bush.   Even men on foot cannot bring them in.  Because of predator problems I cannot leave any kids out. 

Border Collie working Boer Goats in Namibia

Carnarvon: For the last 10 years I have been doing the working stock  myself with the help of my dogs. The average campe size is 1200 Morgan.  By horseback with my dogs it takes me a half an hour to the camp. My wife will sometimes come and help me.  To collect the camp of approximatley 350 Dorpers with lambs and to take them to the Kraal to work will take me about 2 Hours.   Then the ride home to fetch the pickup  to return to the kraal to mark te lambs. To dip the 250 Angora goats I can mangae to do on my own with the help of the dogs.   The one dogs is an excellent guard dog at home and always lies at the front door.

Vir die laaste tien jaar doen die boer al sy vee werk met sy honde. Die gemiddelde kamp grootte is 1200 Morge. Te perd en met sy honde sal hy vanaf die Huis ‘n half uur ry na die kamp. Met tye sal sy vrou hom ook help met ‘n perd en ‘n hond. Om die trop van +-350 Dorpers met lammers bymekaar te maak en na die krale te neem duur so ongeveer twee uur.   Dan is dit weer half uur huis toe die bakkie kry en die werk gaan doen in die krale.  Hier werk die honde weer.   Die dip van 250 Angora bokke word man alleen gedoen met die hulp van twee honde.   Die een hond is ook sommer waghond by die Voordeur. (en bewaar die siel wat daar kom.)

In die woorde van ‘n Boer van Maclear. Ek het nooit baie van ‘n Skaaphond gehou nie. Na ek ‘n kursus bygewoon het wat aangebied was deur lede van die Skaaphond Vereniging het ek tog besluit om een aan te skaf.  Nou na ‘n jaar is dit my REGTERHAND. Die hond is in ‘n  plaas ongeluk beseer en ek het gedink dit is die einde van my hond se werk loopbaan en was totaal verpletter.   Gelukkig het my hond herstel en ek beplan vir nog ‘n hond oor ‘n jaar.

Reitz: Vandat ek ‘n werkende hond het is dit nie meer nodig dat ek vier werkers by die saaiery moet gaan haal om te help om ‘n trop skaap in die kraal in te jaag nie. Ek doen dit nou met my hond.

Humansdorp: My Plaas het ‘n berg wat ongeveer 840m hoog is en so 200 hektaar groot. Daar is diep klowe, riwwe en baie klipperig. Dit het tot ‘n week geneem met 3 abeiders om die 400 skaap in die berg bymekaar te kry. Die hond vergemaklik die taak en ek het die wind gebruik om die hond aan die onderkant van die skaap te stuur waar hy hulle kan ruik by  hul skuil plekke in koelte van rotse.   Die skaap kom Zig Zag af weens die steilte van die berg. Dit neem ‘n oggend om die berg met die hond bymekaar te maak en selde het daar ‘n skaap agter gebly.
Om die groot eier  ooie na die volgende kamp te skuif is ook vergemaklik hy kom met die groot eiers en los die ooie met klein lammers agter.
Net vir tattoeër, sterte afsit en skeertyd het ek los arbeid.

ANONIEM:   Ek het nie ‘n hond nie.   Om ‘n Skaap te vang in ‘n kamp moet ek vier mense hê en  hulle moet rats wees en vinning spring om hom te vang. HELP!

Bethulie : Ek het my Hond in die middel van Lammery verloor en dit was NAG.   Net, daar het ek besluit ek wil nooit weer sonder ‘n hond wees nie. Ek het nou ‘n ekstra hond om seker maak ek bevind my nie weer in so ‘n situasie nie.

Namibia :  “Waar ek boer in die Suidweste van Namibia is dit ‘n baie onherbergsame wereld, m.a.w. berge wat tot 300m hoog is en wat baie rotsagtig is.  Om met perde die diere bymekaar te maak is byna onmoontlik.  Vir ‘n mens om tot op die kruin te klim vat jou ongeveer ‘n halfuur (as jy fiks genoeg is) en met vandag se arbeid wat daagliks ‘n groter probleem raak het dit my geen ander keuse gelaat as om vir my ‘n paar skaaphonde aan te skaf nie.   Die probleem was egter dat ek baie min kennis gehad het om ‘n hond af te rig, maar as jy die regte honde aanskaf is dit mos maklik om hul te leer.   Nou werk dit so dat daar nie ‘n tree op my plaas gery word sonder my honde nie.   Om die diere van die berg af te haal is geen moeite nie en menigte mense wat al hier by my kom besoek aflê het, het al met ongeloof gestaar as ek met een fluit die honde stuur om die diere te gaan haal daar bo op die berg oor ‘n afstand van tot 1km.  Ek gebruik hoofsaaklik kleiner of ligter honde in ons terrein en die honde is baie fiks daarom vat dit ‘n hond slegs enkele minute om tot bo op die berg te kom.  Vir my is dit ondenkbaar hoe ‘n mens in vandag se tyd en veral in ons wêreld sonder ‘n skaaphond kan boer”

 

 

 

 

Jill Loading

Jill Loading sheep onto a double decker

We often try and workout a dogs worth in monetory terms. Once you have had a trained dog you realize that no money can replace your dog. Here are some feedbacks of what a working dog can do for you.

A Venterstad farmers experience with his first two dogs makes him excited about the prospect of his third dog. With the first dog (not fully trained or well trained) the dipping time for sheep for paralysis tick was shorten from a day and a half and six labourers to a day. Having gained experience in training his first dog he now has a better trained second dog to help. The time was shortened to half a day and four labourers. Then the dogs got better and the job is now finished by 11.00 o? clock with two labourers and their biggest task is to mix the dip and to top up the dip tank.

A Maclear Farmer, states that his dog is worth four men at the point of the race when working cattle.

In Bredasdorp there is a farmer who can manage his flock of 1200 stud ewes, the replacement young ewes and all the rams being prepared for sale with his dog and one assistant.

The experience of a Colesberg Farmer. He has four shepherds each with their own group of about 1000 sheep to look after. Three of the shepherds have dogs to help them. The shepherds collect the ewes with lambs running in flocks of about 150 so that he can count & examine the stock and finishes each group in a morning. With the shepherd without a dog, it takes all day. The sheep have to be regrouped repeatedly because there is no dog to hold them. Which he finds greatly aggravating and frustrating to work this group of sheep.

Down Bedford way there is a farmer who runs 1000 head of Damara sheep, 750 angoras, 150 head of Nguni/Tuli/Boran cross cattle with two labourers and his dogs. There was a time when there were thirteen labourers.

My own experience is that at shearing time I can move 2400 sheep to and from the shearing shed with my dogs. Many of the flocks have 2mnth old lambs at foot. I travelled 388 km this year during the week of shearing. Although my dogs are taken to the camps they then collect the sheep and drive them home. I do alternate dogs and save them where I can. This year there was extra work the week immediately after shearing. We needed to move sheep to camps with more shelter with the forecast of rain and cold weather and did another 147 km of travelling. Here I want to add this cannot be done if the dogs have not been prepared before hand. They need to be fit and their feet need to be hardened by having done a lot of work or (road work) running. Our dogs gather all the sheep for counting twice a week on the farm. They also help in the kraal filling the race. They make the loading of stock onto or off-loading a truck a simple quick task. Small tasks that have to be done like collecting a small flock of ewes lambing out of season makes the task so simple to gather and check on them. Spotting a sheep with wire in its wool can be caught in the veld and the wire removed. When there is blowfly strike you can treat the sheep in the camp. There are numerous tasks these dogs help you accomplish daily on the farm.

The following was an article in an Australian working dog magazine. A farmer would bring in a dog that had been injured either from a fall off a bakkie or some other accident to be put down. Then two days later the owner rushed in inquiring whether his dog was still there? The Vet from experience knew the worth of a working dog and had gone ahead and operated on the dog. The owner had found out after a few days he could not cope without his dog and was then prepared to spend the money for the surgery.

It is taxing for dogs to work these long hard hours and they need all the energy they can get. If they are not to start flagging and still be sharp to your commands (and the cattle’s kicking feet) they need to be in tip top physical condition.

So to have a well conditioned working machine you need to make sure your care is first class.

See article on Care.

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