Mustering cattle and moving them through the Yards

Since posting the  “Mustering with clever dogs” post last year I have had quite a few requests for the complete footage from which that post was taken. At over 14 minutes this video demonstrates how well bred, herding dogs with natural instinct  take up positions around a mob of cattle to guide them, mostly at a walk,  from a paddock to a set of yards where normal husbandry procedures can be conducted. Although this is filmed handling cattle the principles are the same for all types of livestock. If you have any questions please comment at the bottom of this post.


Dirt Rhodes, Hustle, Matts Blues, Porch Blues, Slow Burn, Whiskey on the Mississippi.

Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Mustering Cattle with Clever dogs

To watch this video in HD (recommended) use the Youtube button in the lower right corner, then select HD from the options, again in the lower right corner. Remember to come back and add your comments.

I was just talking to Mitchell Grambauer and he said that watching this video in HD “beat the hell out of watching television”. He added that he was impressed about the calmness in the cattle and the dogs. “How far have you got to travel to see dogs able to guide livestock, even cows and calves, with both dominance and fairness?”

The initial cast from the young Milburn Bitch, Moss is perfect in my terrain. You can see that she cruises around the flight zone of the mob and stops at the weight point represented by a single cow who tests her mettle. As the cow yields from the correct amount of pressure, Moss continues her outrun to affect the lift on the mob. Tracker the Chief, and his daughter, Tracker Suki, assist her with some fairdinkum walk up, without violence but with intent.

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Gin Gin Stock Handling School

The Gin Gin district was originally settled in 1847 when Gregory Blaxland and William Forster moved into the area with sheep and cattle. The site where the town now stands was once part of the sprawling Gin Gin Station owned by Sir Thomas McIlwraith, who was Premier of Queensland three times between 1879 and 1893.

The Gin Gin district is nicknamed Wild Scotsman Country due to the capture of one of Queensland’s few bushrangers, James Alpin McPherson, in the area on 30 March 1866. McPherson, who went by the same nickname, was captured at Monduran Station, 13 km north of town. The Wild Scotsman Festival is held in Gin Gin on the third week of March each year to commemorate this event.

The name Gin Gin was derived from the original station name, which used a local Aboriginal word indicating “red soil thick scrub”. (Wikipedia)

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Wyoming/Utah USA

Behold, it came to pass that Sean and I visited with our fantastic host family, The Taylors. This is no ordinary family as the patriarch, Dr Robert, or Bob or just Doc to his friends is none other than the star of the Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets” show, now “retired” to a fully functioning commercial cattle ranch in South West Wyoming called Lonetree.

As you can plainly see he wasn’t chosen for his good looks, but, for his skill and dedication as an Orthopedic Veterinary surgeon.

Animal Planets Meet Dr Bob

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The 10 Commandments

1.   Instinct.

Do your homework. A young pup generally has a potential governed by his ancestors, and the recent ones are the most pertinent. Would you bet on a Corgi at the dog track?

2.   The Eyes are a Camera.

Don’t waste the effort you put into achieving the first goal of selecting for the very best instincts by allowing the young pup to run amuck on his own or with other dogs. Don’t chain him up and wait for him to grow out, but do teach him to tie up and lead correctly. He needs to spend quality time with you to be able to graduate from Kindergarten and then primary school etc. Develop the invisible rope and then lengthen it. If you have more than one dog introduce them to group feeding. This is possibly the most important technique to establish a caring dominance over your pack. Expect and develop basic manners when walking, going through doors and gates, leaving the kennel or releasing the chain. That pup should now want to “photograph” you due to mutual respect.

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“Scott and the Magic Lead Rope” by Sean Barrett

It was one of those moments, Scott just put down the phone to a tour bus operator.  He walked outside looking over towards his farming land and scratched his head with frustration.  Casually he patted his new Kelpie, Ted, on the head and asked “What the hell are we going to show these tourists boy?”

Usually the buses came later in the year and the tourists enjoyed the views of fresh crops sprouting from the ground and Scott could discuss the techniques of farming and show off his wealth of knowledge to the eager tourists.  This was not to plan this time as the crops had not even been planted and to look at an empty field was not exactly riveting viewing.  “No boy” he said to Ted “I have got no idea what we can show these people, I mean look at this place.” 

They cast their eyes around the farm and the fresh green shoot from the early spring rains was now shrivelled and brown from the early morning frosts of the past few days.  “Can’t win a bloody trick at the moment Ted.” Scott said as he donned his infamous terry towelling ‘bucket hat’.

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W.A.I.T (Work as I train)

Is a program of fully training a pup at work while attending to the daily jobs on a farm. It does require that the handler can properly and safely restrain the pup in the work place when it would otherwise be at risk of injury or death. The pup must have the genetic potential to control livestock naturally as there are very few vocalisations from the handler other than a call and words of encouragement. Screaming and words like Argh are banned. A rapport between handler and pup must have been developed in the camp before training begins. (eyes are a camera, group feeding etc.)

The WAIT program is successful because doing real jobs tends to take some of the handlers attention away from the pup allowing it to solve problems on its own and to allow its inherent genetic makeup to be expressed. Also, while doing real work the handler tends to vary the exercises by necessity and work the pup down so he learns to pace himself. Just remember it is a pup so match the job to its physical and mental capabilities.

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Bonshaw, Thunderbolt, Livestock and Dogs

It is little wonder that Thunderbolt was attracted to this paradoxical border region.

Throughout his career as an outlaw he never fired his pistol in anger. In fact his demeanor towards his victims was always polite and jovial. In 1867 Thunderbolt, and a young accomplice, held up and robbed the Bonshaw store/hotel in a very non-violent and respectful way.  J.N. Roper’s Account

His “death” was just as intriguing  as it was enshrouded in a Police coverup, a suspiciously tall woman with a manly gait attending the funeral and a boat trip to USA by a Fred Ward and Sarah Shepherd. The real names of Thunderbolt and his mother.

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Another Muster

The Gympie Country Music Muster has to be experienced to be understood. This year started about a week before live music began echoing around the Amamoor Valley with the annual call from our friend, Sue McMah. She instructed Sean and me to turn up to Swill Hill with dogs and ATV, she would bring the sheep. Swill Hill is one of the more lavish camping facilities frequented by a group of long-term revelers.

Our mission was to attract attention and to hand out brochures for a pre-muster function in Gympie. Apart from destroying one fiery tempered young retiree’s coax cable linking his over sized caravan to his over sized satellite dish all went well.

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Flock/Mob Work

The response to the 500 metre rule has been awesome with many of you reporting a really positive response from your pups. I mentioned that, after you have mastered the 500 metre rule, move on to general flock/mob work. Here is a guide:

  1. Choose a larger mob, 40 to 50 animals is ideal.
  2. The livestock should be moving away from the yards so that they move freely.
  3. Position yourself behind the mob, zigzagging from eye to eye of the leaders.
  4. If possible, have an experienced dog with you. (on the bike or on a lead)
  5. As the stock are walking along allow the pup to be drawn up one side to the head. If they run, allow the pup to head them until they stop, then call him back along the same side he went up. If they just continue to walk along allow him to get to about 2/10 o’clock then call him back that same side.
  6. Repeat this exercise on the other side.
  7. Your pup, with the right genetics, will quickly learn to drove stock, at the walk, if they run on he will move forward into the retard section of the leader’s eye, but not directly in front of them. If they slow down or stop he will come back towards you into the drive section of the eye.
  8. When your pup has mastered the basics of this exercise, vary it a bit by leaving a couple behind so he looks for problems to solve. To finish the exercise move ahead of the mob  and allow your pup to balance it to you.
  9. This exercise is a good reinforcement of the call. Each call is followed by encouragement to work on the opposite wing.
  10. Other than the call your voice will only emit sounds of encouragement for your pup. Even if he is making mistakes, encourage with your voice, correct with your body position.

Good luck and post any questions in the comment box below.