Stock Handling & Animal Welfare

All-round Kelpie Larry brings home challenge cup for Damien

Sheep Central, December 12, 2016
Damien Clifford with Myamba Larry.

Damien Clifford with Myamba Larry.

A HARD-WORKING Victorian Kelpie has won the inaugural Cobber Challenge after covering nearly 500 kilometres in three weeks the job for Woorndoo stock contractor and farmer Damien Clifford.

Damien’s three-year-old Kelpie dog Myamba Larry won the challenge from seven other working dogs in other states after covering 497.1 km at an average speed of 8.67km/hour while working sheep and cattle.

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In the challenge, the eight dogs fitted with GPS collars had their travels recorded during work each day.

Myamba Larry was “pretty full-on”, Mr Clifford said, but was able to adapt his speed to differing livestock situations.

“But his preference is flat out.”

Most of Larry’s work is with sheep, Mr Clifford said, for five days week on farms, as well as possibly a trial on Saturday and training on a Sunday.

“He’s got plenty of endurance; he’s no slouch on any front really – he’s a pretty all-round sort of dog.

“He’s pretty complete.”

Damien said he runs a relatively small team of dogs.

“My main work team consists of five or six dogs, so they’ve got to be smart enough to walk into a ewe and lamb and still have enough ticker to back sheep into the fourth deck of a B-double.

“I’m not one for carrying a dozen or 15 dogs on the ute, so for that reason they have got to be clever and they’ve got to have a big motor.”

His dogs handle all categories of stock including ewes and lambs, crossbreds and cattle.

Damien said he was honoured Larry won the Cobber Challenge against such talented and hard-working competition.

“I never doubted Larry’s ability to work hard over the three weeks but he was up against some natural competitors.

“When it’s time to go, these working dogs go hard, and the Cobber Challenge has shown just how hard they work, and how long they go for,” he said.

“It’s been incredible to watch how every dog’s gone over the past three weeks.”

The runners-up in the challenge were fellow Western Victorian, Andrew Slabbert’s Kelpie Rex at Grassdale, who ran 539km, and Jeremy Grills’ Kelpie Tammy at Armidale in New South Wales, who covered 464km during the challenge. Average speed, distance and duration were all taken into account to decide the winner.

The other competitors were Dave Steel’s Border Collie Ace, at Moura, and Matt Frankish’s Border Collie Hank, at Middlemount, in Queensland; Matt Ehsman’s Kelpie Minute at Delunga in NSW, and; Ashlea Mabon’s Kelpie Dixie, at Greenways, and Shelby Auld’s Kelpie Joker, at Glencoe, in South Australia.

The Cobber Challenge was established by animal nutrition company Ridley to showcase the importance of working dogs to the Australian agricultural sector.

Ridley nutritionist David Nash said the Cobber Challenge is the first competition of its kind tracking the daily activity of working dogs. As well as generating strong interest in the farming community, the data will provide insights into the nutritional requirements of these invaluable assets.

“The data recorded during this challenge shows that our working dogs can run back-to-back marathons on a regular basis.”

More information on the challenge is available at


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