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#1 Maralynn

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 01:00 PM

Quoting Pearse from the other thread -

However, if you need a dog to move your dairy herd, or help with fall roundup, or manage your flocks, it's a tougher job. The ABCA is trying to help on the one hand by supporting the activities of the USBCHA, and local trials through the Promotional Fund, but I don't think we've been as effective in supporting farmers and ranchers and reaching out to them. I suspect that many of them who use dogs, know where to get them, but there are many more who probably could use dogs and don't for lack of resources in finding them, finding training (human and dog) and that may be an area we need to focus more attention on.


As someone who came to the breed from a farm background, this really resonated with me. I am part of this target audience. I started Missy on four bum lambs after reading the John Holmes book (I think that was the one). I had no mentors, no resources, no clue about the nuances of a working Border Collie. I just had a dog with some talent and a strong personal desire to learn. FWIW, I still don't understand half the sheepdog lingo. I read the training section and have to figure out what exactly some of the terms mean.

So here's my two cents on reaching this audience -

Utilize Fiber Festivals. Lots of them have demos which the public finds interesting. But these could go a step further. Lots of farmers/flock owners attend these. Why not have clinics at festivals? Many of them take place on fairgrounds and have arenas that could be utilized.

Advertise the clinics that are put on - in places where farmers will find them! I'm still not completely sure about how one finds a clinic. I'm pretty sure that some must take place in the state of Michigan at times, but I sure don't know about them. Maybe I'm just not be on the right email list or look on the right group or forum?

Have grants that farmers can apply for to help cover the cost of a clinic.

Do write-ups for farming publications. Reading through the finals blog there were several great contributions by competitors who use the dogs in their livestock operations. If you could contribute articles like those to farming publications, you could show the target audience how a Border Collie would help them.

To best preserve the breed you got to preserve the need for the breed. The breed will always be needed by those who can appreciate and utilize it's talents.

Mara
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#2 Maralynn

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 09:45 PM

After writing this out I contacted the Michigan Fiber Festival to see about the possibility of putting on a clinic next year. They sent me a form to write out a proposal for a workshop. Not exactly what I had in mind so I'll be contacting them with a clarification. But it also led to another thought.

I think there might be a place for workshops for people interested in using dogs in a livestock operation - both herding and guardian. Put together a lecture, handouts, a resources list and be ready to answer questions. At the MFF workshops run for three hours. And instructors do get paid for teaching.

I don't have the knowledge/personal experience to put something like this together at this point in time. But if someone is interested in putting a proposal together, the deadline is Nov 1. http://www.michiganfiberfestival.info/

Mara
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Missy, my good girl 1999-2011
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#3 Debbie Meier

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 11:10 PM

Hopefully someone in Michigan will follow up.

This past summer we were approached by a group that hosts a fiber festival in Indiana after they saw our demonstrations at the Iowa Sheep Festival. We really are not interested in going out of state and encouraged them to make contact with USBCHA directors from their area in hopes that they will find someone locally to handle their event.

We are going down to Winterset Iowa this weekend for the Bridges of Madison County Festival, this is the third year in a row for us to appear down there and this is the third weekend in a row that we will be away from the farm giving demonstrations/seminars. All the ones we have done off the farm have been free for attendees and either the event host covers our expenses or we donate our time.

On a aside, this note just came in from a sheep producer here in Iowa that we are friends with, they are closely involved in the American Sheep Association, the Iowa Sheep Assoc. and also use dogs, we had just been talking about promoting the dogs and how useful video is.

"When my husband watched the Iowa Cow Dog video on your website, his comment was that he really appreciated that those people were keeping the breed true to its purpose so the rest of us can buy dogs that work."


I think a key to reaching the target audience is customizing the message to the audience, making it relative to the work they actually do. In areas where sheep and cattle are free range the demonstrations need to be geared toward showing how dogs will make that work easier. In areas where sheep and cattle are in confined areas the focus is more on lot and alley work.

I feel that it is important to visit some livestock operations, especially if a person is to conduct demonstration or clinics with the intent on selling the idea of using dogs to livestock producers, so that you can see how the producers handle their stock and what their facilities are. Not all are set up in a dog friendly manner and you often find that places a person would expect to use a dog a dog is not needed.
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#4 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 11:40 PM

Part of the problem I sometimes see, in reaching ranchers and farmers, is that if they don't know how to use a dog, they don't know how to train one, and most importantly, they don't have the time to learn how to train a dog.

If they decide they need a dog, they probably need it the same way they need a tractor: right now and with the keys in the ignition. Which would mean getting a trained dog, as opposed to a pup. But ... they may need some serious convincing to shell out the money to buy a trained dog, because while they'll buy a $2,000 - $3,000 horse, they have a hard time seeing the point in spending serious money on something that could get run over by the hired hand.

And the farmer still has to be taught how to own and operate his new working dog. That component can be pretty hard to find, depending where one lives. Here in the state of Nevada, there are exactly three professional stockdog trainers, and they all live in Douglas County and train for arena trials. They're not accessible to someone out in Elko County or over by Pioche.

So, it's not just showing farmers the good a dog can do, it's the whole package that goes along with acquiring and then learning a stock dog.

That I see as a very real obstacle, at least depending on location. I wish I knew the solutions, but I'm just throwing that out as part of the conversation. :)

~ Gloria
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#5 Debbie Meier

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 12:32 AM

Very good point Gloria. There is a feedlot behind us where the workers are allowed to use dogs, they are trying but don't have too much to work with, a couple of the employees have even sat in on clinics. We have a little dog available that could do them a world of good but they just won't shell out the money, they will spend a couple hundred but no more. Now a horse, they will spend thousands for. Looks like we are going to just loan them the dog we have, take him for a test drive for a couple of weeks and see how they get along. Even after getting a chance to use him I doubt they will buy him, more then likely they will go the less expensive route and buy a pup, but that's ok, at least this little dog will be able to show them what is possible.

We have sold a couple of average dogs for real reasonable that had directions, a stop and a basic understanding of how to move stock just so a stock producer can get their feet wet with dogs. Three that I can think of trialed as novice dogs on cattle and sheep but were not suited in our opinion for any higher level of trialling. Just last week we sold a nice pup to one that purchased one of those inexpensive dogs, they used the dog for three years she died and they want/need another, they came back to us and wanted to step up to something with a little more scope and would also like to trial a bit.

Last year I sold my pro-novice dog JJ to a cattle producer that just had to have him, he loves the dog, everyone in town knows him by name...he just rides along in the pickup truck and is very rarely used. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

As for the need for a trainer, we have found that if the dogs they get are naturally talented and easy to get along with all the rancher/farmer needs is for someone to explain things in a way that makes sense to them. It often times comes down to allowing what is acceptable and stopping what is not. Many don't need precise directions and exact stops, they just need dogs that handle stock in a acceptable manner. The precise directions and the exact stops are more like the bonus bells and whistles.

I recall posts back when the movie Sweetgrass came out and also when other documentaries were released mentioning that the ranchers needed better dogs. To the ranchers those dogs were good dogs, the dogs did what was needed. Often times what the rancher needs or gets along with just fine is nothing like what we see on the trial field. Not saying that the trial dog can't do the ranch work or that a ranch dog can't be a trial dog, just comes down to different priorities. The rancher is not nearly as worried about pencil sharp precision but instead more about getting the task done. They often like watching a dog that does not need to be told, or that obviously is understanding the task and working together with the handler.

I was just speaking to one of our club members that raises cattle and uses his dogs, he just started using dogs a little over a year ago and now has some nice young ones coming up. He is real bummed out tonight, one of his young dog just broke her leg down at the Tulsa State Fair exhausting the cattle after her run where she placed second in the futurity, she is schedule for surgery in the morning in Oklahoma City. He worries about trialling a bit know that trialling is a risk for his dogs, there is a chance that a dog that he depends on and needs will get hurt breaking someone elses cattle that he will never see again, it's different if your dog gets injured doing the job you need him for. It is something we think about often ourselves. But he also feels that trialling challenges him to train his dogs to a higher level and recognized that they better trained they are the more useful they will be to him.

Sorry I've gone off topic...maybe what is comes down to is that the target audience can not be hit with one shot, maybe many need to be reached via customized marketing plans.
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#6 juliepoudrier

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 06:26 AM

because while they'll buy a $2,000 - $3,000 horse, they have a hard time seeing the point in spending serious money on something that could get run over by the hired hand.

Of course they never consider that the horse could keel over from colic or some other thing--one of the reasons I've always balked at spending a small fortune on a horse. Of all the animals on the farm that seem to be able to damage themselves (sometimes beyond the point of repair) and that cost the most to maintain, I'd put horses at the top of the list.

J.

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#7 Debbie Meier

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 08:30 AM

Of course they never consider that the horse could keel over from colic or some other thing--one of the reasons I've always balked at spending a small fortune on a horse. Of all the animals on the farm that seem to be able to damage themselves (sometimes beyond the point of repair) and that cost the most to maintain, I'd put horses at the top of the list.


If you used a horse in your work you would accept that and if you didn't use a dog the attitude may be toward the dog that you currently have toward the horse. Why spend that much money just to have it ride along in the pick up or get tromped and killed by a cow.

One of the boys from the feedlot was scrambling last week, his horse got himself wire cut and he needed to find a back up fast otherwise he would have to work lots on foot. This lot only allows the guys 1 horse on site and his back up horse was at his parents 4 hours away. To them the horse is more important then the dog, they understand how to use it in their work and have created a need for it.

Since they have a need they are also more willing to put a little extra into one that is of higher quality. Not much different then a person who uses a dog, if they have a need they are apt to put a little more money into it if they have it available.
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#8 Eileen Stein

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:02 AM

This past summer the ABCA approved a grant application from Denise Wall to produce a series of three short (~10 mins) educational videos. One of them will be directed at farmers and ranchers to show them what the dogs could do for them, and what's involved in getting and using one. Denise intends to include both sheep and cattle, close work and open range. It will take a lot of time and effort (way out of proportion to the amount she is being paid -- it's definitely a labor of love with her), but knowing Denise I'm sure it will be a great product. It will end up on YouTube, with a link to it from the ABCA website, but maybe it could also be made available to people who might be willing to do this kind of presentation at fairs, fiber festivals, and the like, so they could use it in their presentation.

#9 Debbie Meier

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:22 AM

Our friend that is involved with the American Sheep Industry watched the one you linked last week in the Nationals thread, she had good things to say about it.
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#10 Eileen Stein

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:27 AM

I recall posts back when the movie Sweetgrass came out and also when other documentaries were released mentioning that the ranchers needed better dogs. To the ranchers those dogs were good dogs, the dogs did what was needed. Often times what the rancher needs or gets along with just fine is nothing like what we see on the trial field. Not saying that the trial dog can't do the ranch work or that a ranch dog can't be a trial dog, just comes down to different priorities. The rancher is not nearly as worried about pencil sharp precision but instead more about getting the task done. They often like watching a dog that does not need to be told, or that obviously is understanding the task and working together with the handler.


I remember that too. I recall thinking at the time, "Those dogs are doing more than you think." Not that there weren't situations when you could see how a well-trained dog could have made a huge difference, but there were also a number of occasions where I think someone who was accustomed to the command-response of trial work might have missed the part those dogs were playing on their own initiative.

#11 Eileen Stein

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:28 AM

Our friend that is involved with the American Sheep Industry watched the one you linked last week in the Nationals thread, she had good things to say about it.


Hey, that's good to hear! :) That was the first of the three Denise is making.

#12 juliepoudrier

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:40 AM

If you used a horse in your work you would accept that and if you didn't use a dog the attitude may be toward the dog that you currently have toward the horse. Why spend that much money just to have it ride along in the pick up or get tromped and killed by a cow.

Debbie,
FWIW, I was a horse person *long before* I was a dog person. I get the value of a horse for work or pleasure. But there's no discounting the fact that, in general, the cost, care, maintenance, and replacement value of a dog is lower than that of a horse. But thanks for trying to enlighten me anyway. :rolleyes:

J.

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#13 Debbie Meier

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 12:11 PM

hobby horse person, sport horse person or working horse person?
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#14 Debbie Meier

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:54 PM

Just putting some more thought into reaching the target audience..

When we ask livestock producers to embrace the use of dogs in their operations we are asking them to embrace a livestyle change. Using working dogs is a chosen lifestyle no different then working cattle horseback or shepherding flocks in the mountains. Curt Pate made mention in a lowstress livestock presentation that many if not most farmers and ranchers don't do it for the money, they do it for the lifestyle. He said something to the effect of...if you go out to visit some cowboys handling cattle and tell them that they have to give up their hats and wear helmets that rather then wearing helmets they will quit the work, because the work is not what is important it is the lifestyle that goes along with the work and that hat.

So on that note, there is a reason why a feedlot worker that tends his yards horseback will pay more for a horse then the dog, more then likely he chose that line of work because he wanted to live that type of lifestyle, by gosh he certainly could earn a better living doing something else and not work nearly as hard. It does not matter that a horse is more money to maintain or has an increased risk of death or injury, the horse is manditory in order for that person to persue their chosen lifestyle whereas the dog is not.

I think this same thing applies to why some people elect to use other breeds of dogs working vs. border collies. People here on these board may have a case in saying that the border collie could do the work better, but in the persons eyes that is using the dog it is not the case, why, because their heeler or aussie or what ever breed they have chosen to use is part of the lifestyle they have elected to follow.

Anyway, I've been as guilty as anyone else and set out on the wrong foot with someone by shitting on someone elses lifestyle, and there is no way we are going to get them to hear what we are trying to say when we start out on the wrong foot. This also means being open to what ever breed of dog a person elects to use when handling livestock. If they see that someone else is getting it done better they will on their own change over to a different breed, different working style or make changes within their breed so that the future generations of dogs are better working dogs.

I also often wonder how many people on these boards that own sheep are active in their local Sheep Association or in the American Sheep Association? If you want sheep producers to increase the use of dogs in their sheep operations it would be a good place to start, by being part of the community in which you are trying to effect change.
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#15 Tea

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 05:36 PM

I'll use it Eileen



#16 Ooky

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 09:06 PM

I really think another target, "growth" audience, in California at least, should be land managers for preservation areas (mitigation, parks, etc.). Grazing for habitat management can require quite a bit of moving herds around between pastures and also sheep are often a natural choice for grazing amongst some types of projects, I'm thinking specifically wind and solar farms. But dogs could be very useful managing cattle too, a fact Sue and Anna could certainly attest to!

CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), and also the federal and state endangered species acts, mean that the amount of land being put up for mitigation, grasslands to be managed including grazing "in perpetuity", will only increase. And companies have to put up big money for the land management, with an endowment that pays for grazing management and even money to PAY local people to graze the land in some cases, in perpetuity.

A recent project, ONE project I worked on, will have to provide over 10,000 acres of grazeable mitigation land. Current grazing plans seek to use sheep and cattle. I mean, this seems like a way stockwork could grow with changing demands.

I have to think on my end how to reach that target audience. I forsee a lot of the same issues - how do you convince them 1) this is something so useful they need it, 2)it is worth the money, and 3) it is worth the time and effort to learn. I will be thinking about it!

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