Twelve dogs from across Australia are gearing up to compete in the Cobber Challenge to crown the country’s hardest working farm dog. Each dog will wear a GPS collar to track how far, fast and for how long they work over a three-week period.
In the fifth year of competition, the 2020 Cobber Challenge is shaking up its format, with favourite competitors from previous years to compete against five new contenders.
The 2020 Cobber Challenge: All Stars Vs Contenders will run from 17 August to 6 September. Each day of the competition, data is uploaded to the Cobber Challenge website so fans can follow the performance of their hardest working farm dogs.
The All Stars
The 2016 Cobber Champion Damien Clifford and his Kelpie, Larry, are among the All Stars.
Since winning the title, Damien has become livestock manager on a property with 9,000 ewes and a couple hundred cattle, and has expanded his own farm at Woorndoo, Victoria. Larry has continued to excel on the farms, as well as in yard dog trials, where he has represented Victoria and qualified in the top 25 Australia yard dog championship.
Damien is excited to see how Larry performs in the competition with this extra workload. At seven years old, Larry is the oldest dog in the competition. But Damien says his loyal companion hasn’t slowed down.
“Larry is hard worker with a big heart – he just never stops,” Damien said.
The All Stars team also includes two friends from South Australia: Matt Scharkie and Sam McCarthy. We can’t wait to watch this friendly rivalry play out!
The All Stars won’t be able to rely on experience to seal the win, with an exciting line up for the Contenders. Among them is Oliver Armstrong, a farm hand on a sheep, cattle and goat property at Bollon, Queensland. He’s entered three-year-old Kelpie, Roudy, who he says is a hard-working dog who can’t sit still.
“Roudy will work all day just for a pat on the head and some food. I entered the Cobber Challenge to prove how hard working she is,” Oliver said.
“She is fast, agile, she loves to block up and she works on flat, red mulga country so she is very fit.”
Way down South
Another new Contender is Pip Flower, a livestock overseer on a 20,000 acre farm outside of Launceston, Tasmania. Pip has been working with dogs since she came to Australia from the UK about 10 years ago. At 15 months old, her dog Hurricane, or Hurri for short, is the youngest in the competition.
Pip often works the young Border Collie with two other dogs, and his stamina and ability to push stock has already made him a vital part of the team.
“Hurri does so many kilometres each day that I think he’ll do really well in this competition,” Pip said.
Kellie Savage, Cobber’s Marketing Manager, said the number and quality of nominations shows Australian farmers are eager to see their dogs recognised for the work they do.
“In the nominations, you could see how everyone values their dogs as part of the farm team and for their natural abilities and companionship,” Kellie said.
Cobber Working Dog Food will provide the fuel for these dogs, as it does for thousands of working dogs every day around the country.
For three weeks, the dogs will be scored based on distance, speed and duration of work per day with points accumulated based on daily activity to determine the winner of the Cobber Challenge trophy.
“You can follow the performance of your favourite dog at cobberchallenge.com.au and on the Cobber Dog Facebook page,” Kellie said.