Twelve dogs from six states have been selected to compete in the CobberChallenge to crown Australia’s hardest working farm dog.

Each dog will wear a GPS collar to track how far, fast and for how long theywork over a three-week period.

It’s the fourth year of competition, with the southern states and Kelpiesdominating to date. Can a northern state or a different breed of dog seize thetrophy this year?

Last year, Victoria’s farmer Henry Lawrence and his Kelpie Boof won, clockingan impressive total distance of 638.1 kilometres and average speed of10.62km/h.

Hoping to keep the trophy in Victoria are Mitchell Leek and his Kelpie, Ajay,from Nar Nar Goon, and Sharon Barry and her Kelpie, Cliché, from Hamilton. At11 years old, Cliché may be the oldest dog competing in this year’s CobberChallenge, but Sharon says her work ethic hasn’t wavered.

Tasmanian competitors will try to reclaim the title, after Brad McDonald andFlow won in 2017. Representing the Apple Isle this year are Brendon Johnsonand his leading dog, Lady, and Jack Febey and his number one canine, Monty.Both Tasmanian competitors work on mixed farming operations of about 2000acres.

NSW put forward the largest number of nominations, making the selectionprocess tough. This year the state will be represented by Daniel Pumpa and hisKelpie, Turbo, from near Dubbo, and Emma Lawrence and her Collie, Kelpie,Koolie cross, Mick, from the Liverpool Plains.

Two competitors from Western Australia are keen to see how the distances inthe largest state stack up against their eastern counterparts. Livestockcontractor Jim Harradine says his Border Collie, Bridie, is always the firstdog off the ute whatever the situation – mustering, drafting, crutching, lambmarking. Bailey Vlahov says his Kelpie, Buddy, was born to work livestock andis an invaluable team member when working on his uncle’s mixed farm with 3000sheep and 3000 cattle.

The size of the properties will also mean tough competition from the north,with those hailing from Queensland. Sam Wright is keen for his dog, Bonnie, tobe recognised for the enormous amount of work she does on his family’s cattlebreeding and backgrounding operation southwest of Mackay. Heidi Harrold saysshe couldn’t ask for a better partner to work on the station at Prairie everyday and compete in the Cobber Challenge than her Border Collie-Kelpie cross,Socks.

South Australia is represented by two Border Collies. Contractor Peter Barrsays his dog, Breakit, works with calm assurance, while showing strength andbravery when handling livestock. Peta Bauer also finds working dogs part andparcel of farming life. Her dog, Jed, has an enormous work drive and indowntimes, is easy going.

Ian Moore, Group Marketing Manager of Ridley which produces Cobber, saidnumber and quality of nominations demonstrates the keenness of Aussie farmersto see their dogs recognised for the work they do.

“We had nominations from across the country and you could clearly see howeveryone values their dogs for the work they do as part of the farm team,their natural herding instincts, and for their mateship,” Ian said.

Cobber Working Dog Food will provide the fuel for these dogs, as it does forthousands of working dogs every day around the country.

The competition will run for three weeks from Monday, 12 August to Sunday, 1September. The competitors will be scored based on distance, speed andduration of work per day with points accumulated based on daily activity todetermine the winner of the Cobber Challenge trophy.

“You can follow the performance of your favourite dog and on the Cobber dog Facebook page, as well askeep track of how your state is doing,” Ian said.


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