Farmers on hunt for clued-up canines
Many modern day sheep and beef farmers are too busy on their computers and quad bikes to spend hours training a working dog.
Which is why dozens of cockies went looking for one at the 57th annual sale of heading and huntaway dogs near Gore yesterday.
Prices were strong, with the first hour of sales seeing heading dogs fetch up to $4600.
Terry Dennis, a dog triallist and Waikaia and Waimahaka farmer, said he was looking for a well-bred dog that had a good nature and was reliable.
"Four and a half thousand is about what you need to be paying for a good reliable experienced dog," he said.
Further down the paddock were old-timers Jim McIntyre and Ron McDonald, who have both been attending the annual dog sale at Gore since it started 57 years ago.
"A good dog is as good as a man," McDonald said.
"And a lot cheaper," McIntyre added.
Modern day farmers had less time to train their own dogs so purchased them at the sales, they said.
More than 70 dogs from as far away as Nelson went under the hammer at the Charlton saleyards south of Gore, with the buyers watching the dogs work small flocks of sheep while the auctioneer called for bids.
Oamaru trainer George Prouting, who has sold more than 100 dogs at the Gore sale since 1970, said a good sheep dog needed to have a few brains, with the best often late maturers.
The cost of trained dogs had risen over the years and farmers and dog triallists now realised their value, he said.
That included Waikoikoi farmers Clayton and Lyn Chittock, who bought a 2-year-old heading bitch for $4600.
Lyn said her new dog was nice and steady on the sheep and had a "kind eye".
"If you want a good dog you have to pay for it."
Clayton, who had hoped to pay less, did not seem convinced.
"He is scared I am going to buy another one," Lyn said.
The Southland Times