Man's best friend can also be a cattleman's best friend. Cattle handling isn't an easy job, and good help is becoming hard to find. With the right training, cattledogs can be the best help available, and National Cattledog Association (NCA) Director Jeff Mundorf, says there is more and more demand for cattledogs all the time. "It's generally believed, especially out west where horses are used more often, that one good dog can take the place of three horseback riders," he says. "I routinely send dogs to gather an 80-acre pasture. I have a corral, and I won't ever leave the corral area. With two dogs I will pen 40 to 50 cow-calf pairs."
NCA is sponsoring an all-day benefit cattledog clinic from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, March 8, 2013 at the HBar6 Equine Facility near Elliott, in southwest Iowa. Mundorf, a fifth generation southwest Iowa cattleman and farmer, and 2013 National Finals Open Finals Champion Handler, will be the instructor.
Dogs, handlers of all levels welcome
Individual one-on-one time with instructors will be provided, at least three individual sessions for each participant. Indoor and outdoor arenas are available, and Mundorf expects a broad range of handlers and dogs. Training will cover everything from introducing an 8-month old puppy to livestock to handlers experienced with using dogs to gather, drive, and sort livestock. Cattle that are used to dogs will be available to train dogs of all levels, along with sheep to train dogs that aren't used to cattle.
Experienced handlers will likely be interested in learning about directing dogs at greater distances – one of the ways dogs can make cattle handling easier. "My dogs will gather cattle from half a mile away without a problem," Mundorf says. "You can imagine if I'm going to an 80-acre pasture, cattle are often half a mile away."
Safer, low-stress handling
The goal of the clinic and NCA is to promote efficient, low-stress cattle handling through use of cattledogs. "A lot of times dogs read the flight zone, demeanor, and intent of the livestock far better than we do as humans," Mundorf says. "I personally have learned a lot from dogs on what to do and what not to do when handling cattle."
Cattledogs also offer a safer alternative to handlers working cattle themselves, Mundorf notes. "I'm sure everyone knows of someone who has been involved in an ATV accident, usually traveling at high speeds over rough terrain chasing cattle," he says. "Dogs do all the running and they handle the terrain just fine."
The clinic costs $100 for participants who want individual instruction ($75 for NCA members) and $25 for spectators (free for NCA members). All proceeds go to benefit the National Cattledog Association. This is an all-day clinic and lunch will be provided. The clinic is co-sponsored by Exclusive Pet Foods and the United Farmers Mercantile Cooperative of Red Oak. For more information, visit the NCA website, contact Hannah Thomas at 712-829-7411, or Jeff Mundorf at 712-621-1912.