Working dogs put to the test to find best four-legged farmhand


Twelve teams of working dogs from across Australia and New Zealand are competing to discover the best working dog in the region.

The dog teams will use GPS collars for three weeks to track how far, fast and hard they work as part of the 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay.

The teams will be scored on distance, speed and duration of work per day.

Dane Simmonds and his team at Parwan Prime in western Victoria will be putting Ruby and Tully to the test.

“My dogs are pretty competitive amongst themselves — I’ve got a really good team,” Mr Simmonds said.

Ruby wears a GPS collar as part of the working dog challenge.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

“Each dog rotates through a day, the dogs aren’t allowed to work two days in a row so Ruby is wearing the collar today.”

He said Ruby, a three-year-old kelpie, loved her job on his 2,020 hectare property in the Parwan Valley.

“She wants to work constantly, it doesn’t matter whether I’m working cattle or sheep, and even around the home she doesn’t wanna switch off,” he said.

A man with two dogs on a farm
Dane Simmonds manages Parwan Prime in western Victoria.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

He said he had to drag out of bed in the mornings though.

“She does like her sleep, but once she gets to work she’s a top dog,” he said.

“She’s still finding her feet and has a little bit to learn as she gets a bit narrow focused whereas the other dogs are a little bit older and wiser.”

Two kelpies sitting in a farm buggy.
Maverick is an old hand at rounding up livestock and is teaching Pip the ropes.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

His other working dogs included Maverick, Pip and Nacho.

The Parwan Prime team is currently sitting third on the leaderboard, but Mr Simmonds hopes a busy weekend of work will keep them competitive.

“Today is our busiest day here on the farm, we’ll probably move about 4,000 or 5,000 lambs and 600 cattle,” he said.

A puppy sits on the ground.
Nacho is the youngest of Mr Simmonds’ kelpies and will learn to round up livestock.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

The competition ends on September 11.

Data is uploaded every day so fans can follow the progress of their favourite dogs.

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