Handling livestock with man’s best friend can pay dividends for graziers

With the correct handling, livestock  will become cooperative which in turn leads to a safer working environment for the livestock and the people handling them.

Cooperative animals lead to efficiency of management, especially movement of animals which in turn leads to reduced labor costs, more effective  grazing practices through resting country  and increased productivity. These were the central themes of an Advanced Livestock Movement and Management, and Working Dog School that was run by nationally renowned livestock educator Neil McDonald at the Murphy family property, Tabletop Station near Collinsville, last month.

A total of 22 participants representing 15 grazing enterprises attended and travelled from as far as the Belyando Crossing and Charters Towers. The three-day course, supported by the Queensland Government’s Grazing BMP program, included weaner training and movement, creating a trainer mob, getting the most out of your dogs, understanding mob structure and mentality, and how to move livestock effectively.

Workshop organiser NQ Dry Tropics Grazing BMP Co-ordinator Lisa Hutchinson said the practical component of the course resonated with participants.

“It allowed participants to develop  skills in a controlled environment, with Neil guiding and supporting  individuals through the activities, firstly using his dogs and then with participants using their own,” Ms Hutchinson said.

“He demonstrated how to handle livestock with parallel lines and explained  the impact your feet and eyes have on the movement of livestock.

We naturally want to go behind stock but considering where their eyes are positioned, this puts us where the stock can’t see us or dogs so they curve around to keep us in their vision.

“Ideally, to keep stock moving forward, we work them from the sides, and this is where terms such as V-points and flight zones become important.

“When done correctly, these moves , combined with correct  timing,  ensures those working with livestock can achieve effective movement of animals.

“With participants managing over 147,400 hectares of country over six river catchments, the flow on effects are sure to be widespread,” she said.

The key message for Garlone Moulin of Mt Pleasant Station near Bowen was “When you have the ability to move livestock more efficiently then you are more likely to move cattle, rest county and have better landscape management,” she said.

“This course was very relevant for both Animal Welfare and Land Management – two things that are critical for the success of both our own business and our industry,” she said.

Derek Young from Shannonvale, Normanby Road, said he found the school highly relevant.

“The course showed me not only how to handle stock better, but how to explain myself better when training family and staff to do the job,”Mr Young said.

“The course gives you the tools for working cattle without causing undue stress to animals and people, I would love to see more of the same training,” he said.

Liam Tapiolas of 6 Mile Creek, Home Hill said he found the school beneficial.

“With the cost of staff these days it’s valuable to be able to handle cattle with less people,  and to educate weaners with dogs will be a huge saving,”Mr Tapiolas said.

“I was amazed at how certain body positions and actions affect stock. I am looking forward to educating all cattle more effectively. With effective stock management comes effective grazing management, a win win for all,” he said.