Sheep hit the street at a slower pace

BROOKE BATH
Last updated 08:49 31/03/2014
Steely-eyed dogs kept mobs of sheep in line as they hoofed down Te Kuiti's main street as part of the annual Running of the Sheep.
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MOBBED: Steely-eyed dogs kept mobs of sheep in line as they hoofed down Te Kuiti's main street as part of the annual Running of the Sheep.

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Steely-eyed dogs kept mobs of sheep in line as they trotted down Te Kuiti's main street on Saturday afternoon.

The town's annual "running of the sheep" had a different look this year, as organisers decided to muster the sheep down the main street, as opposed to running them.

The Great NZ Muster takes place every year and complements the New Zealand shearing championships held in Te Kuiti the same weekend.

Five mobs of about 60 sheep each were mustered down the main street by a team of triallists and their dogs.

More than 80 stalls packed the street, along with live entertainment, as well as 300 passengers brought by steam train from Pukekohe.

The local triallists and more than 20 dogs mustered the mobs, with spectators flocking to line the main drag, acting as a human barrier for the sheep.

King Country local and assisting dog musterer Susie Verry said the change was to highlight the skills and talent of dog mustering in a farm-based country.

"We want to show people this is how farm dogs learn and train - the huntaways, the barking dogs and the heading dogs."

"These dogs are amazing in our country. They're the backbone of our farming."

New Zealand Shearing past president Jim Gibb said the decision meant spectators saw first-hand the skills of the dogs with their triallists.

"The idea was to work the dogs on the sheep rather than let them run in just one big mob. This meant a bit more emphasis could be put on the work the dogs do and show what they do on the farm."

Te Kuiti High School prefect Kane Hayes said the change this year brought a fresh excitement to the event.

"You could see kids and the elderly get excited over the dog mustering."

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- Waikato Times

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