It was Aussie dogs all the way in the first trans-Tasman Cobber Challenge.
The Kiwis may have kept their stranglehold on the rugby silverware thisweekend but a Victorian Kelpie took out first place in the unique competitionto find the hardest working dog across Australia and New Zealand.
The 2021 Cobber Challenge winner is Skyblue Jack, and owner Ben Jeffery,Leading Hand at 3200-hectare farm in Victoria’s Western District, could not beprouder.
“I’m in awe of my dog,” Ben says.
Six-year-old Skyblue Jack mustered sheep for drenching; checked up on lambingewes and showed his owner ones that needed help; and shifted sheep and cattleonto paddocks with more feed.
With Ben’s boss unable to get back to Mepungah Pastoral because of borderclosures, Ben, Skyblue Jack and his kennel mates had to step up to get allthis stock work done.
Those circumstances gave Skyblue Jack a leg up in the competition and saw himclock a Cobber Challenge record of 1012.6 kilometres over the three-weekperiod.
They worked every day to record 87 hours worked and an average speed of 11.59km/h. That’s an average of just over 4 hours and 48 km a day.
“Jack’s happiest when he’s working – I even had to hold him back on a few daysto make sure he still had plenty in the tank.
“He is thriving. It’s like my dear friend and stockman mentor used to say,‘Take an old dog for a hard road’.”
Like any great athlete, this year’s Cobber Champion had to prepare for theCobber Challenge. Having been injured in a fight with another dog just monthsbefore the competition, once healed, Ben gradually rebuilt Skyblue Jack’sstamina by taking him on nightly runs.
“I love my dogs; I couldn’t do my job without them. And I knew with Jack, thatI cracked a great bloodline so it’s been awesome to put him to the test andcapture just how hard he works,” Ben says.
Skyblue Jack was among 12 working dogs from across Australia and New Zealandthat competed in the 2021 Cobber Challenge. The three-week competition sawdogs from each state wear GPS collars to track their distance, average speedand working duration on farm.
Now in its sixth year, the Cobber Challenge organisers were thrilled to inviteKiwi farmers and their dogs to compete for the first time.
Cam Clayton and his Heading Dog, Pine, are the top ranked New Zealand team.Cam is amazed by the distances Pine travelled during winter months, a quietperiod on the sheep and cattle station near Ashburton in New Zealand’s SouthIsland.
“I believe Pine would be right up there in the top, giving them a good run inthe summer,” Cam said.
Fellow Kiwi competitor Peter Aitken from Otago agrees that it was eye-openingto see how far his dog Spark travelled.
“We love the Cobber Challenge because it acknowledges the invaluablecontribution that working dogs make on Australian and New Zealand farms everyday,” said Kellie Savage, competition organiser and Cobber Marketing Manager.
“Our farmers always tell us that a good dog is worth at least a few workers.They don’t just provide a safer, more efficient work environment, but there isan incredible mateship between farmers and their dogs.”
Cobber Working Dog Food provides the fuel for the dogs competing in the CobberChallenge as well as thousands of others working hard every day around thecountry.
Leaderboard for the 2021 Cobber Challenge
For the final data visit the Cobber Challenge leaderboard
- Ben Jeffery and Skyblue Jack, from Wannon, Victoria, Australia
- Emma Stocks and Koby, from Coolac, NSW, Australia
- James Leahy and Glenlyon Jill, from Highlands, Victoria, Australia
- Bradley Dunlop and Roxy, from Wanganella, NSW, Australia
- Cam Clayton and Pine, from Ashburton, Canterbury, New Zealand
- James Knight and Krui Snowy, from Devon Park, Queensland, Australia
- Peter Aitken and Spark, from Millers Flat, Otago, New Zealand
- Daniel Pumpa and Turbo, from Koorawatha, NSW
- Antony Mulder and Narroonda Ritz, from Prairie, Queensland, Australia
- Bree How and Kit, from Oatlands, Tasmania, Australia
- Rob Sibley and Boof, from Kojonup, WA, Australia
- Josh Tosh and Trix, from Dipton, Southland
Find out more:
For more information on this year’s competition visitwww.cobberchallenge.com.au
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