Livestock management and working dog school a hit with graziers in northern QLD

Beneficial flow-on effects from efficient livestock handling

Neil McDonald working a mob of weaners.

Neil McDonald working a mob of weaners.


Graziers attended a livestock management course to learn the importance of efficient cattle handling.


An Advanced Livestock Movement Management and Working Dog School was held at Tabletop Station, Collinsville, last month.

Run by nationally renowned livestock educator Neil McDonald, the workshop aimed to assist participants in recognising and understanding the importance of livestock handling and its flow-on effects.

The course demonstrated how with correct handling, livestock will become cooperative, leading to a safer working environment for the livestock and the people handling them.

It is believed that 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.

A total of 22 participants representing 15 grazing enterprises attended the workshop, travelling 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 working dogs, understanding mob structure and mentality, and how to move livestock effectively.

One of the dogs in attendance working a mob.

One of the dogs in attendance working a mob.

Workshop organiser NQ Dry Tropics Grazing BMP coordinator 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.”

Garlone Moulin, Mt Pleasant Station, Bowen said the key message for her was the advantages of moving stock efficiently.

“When you have the ability to move livestock more efficiently then you are more likely to move cattle, rest country 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.”

Derek Young, Shannonvale, Collinsville, 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.”

Liam Tapiolas, 6 Mile Creek, Home Hill.

Liam Tapiolas, 6 Mile Creek, Home Hill.

Liam Tapiolas, 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.”

The story Livestock management and working dog school a hit with graziers in northern QLD first appeared on Queensland Country Life.


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