Friday, April 10, 2009

Herders, herd no more?

Seems some folks in New Zealand are all worked up over a centuries old practice of dogs herding sheep to abattoir.

Tesco, the super big supermarket chain, says the lambs are getting too stressed out by the dogs. So now they don't want herding breeds herding their sheep for them anymore.

Instead they want guardians to wave their arms, beat sticks or wave flags, to move the sheep. (Oh, wouldn't that be a sight! Bet those sheepies would roll over for that!)

We found this news right around April Fool's Day and thought it was a joke. Nope, not a joke after all. And the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is backing the situation. In the article, leading animal welfare charity the RSPCA said it had concerns about the anxiety suffered by sheep as they are circled and pursued by dogs, but did not believe a ban was necessary.

Tesco says,"we don't have a problem with sheep dogs, but we need to make sure they move the sheep in a considerate manner, so they don't stress the sheep out," said a spokesman.

I definitely have the herding instinct, and I have to admit that if I was herding those sheep they may get a little stressed out, because I'm not really trained to herd and I get pretty intense.

But pups who have been herding sheep for years, from bloodlines that go back for centuries, heck, they know what they are doing! They've been trained to do this all of their lives, and come from a long line of sheep herding pups. But still Tesco says the meat is too tough, and not tasty enough when the lambs get too stressed out. So they are pushing the matter.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and hope it's just an isolated incident with an isolated farm.

EDIT: Here is a link to a great article in the Sunday edition of the New Zealand Herald "Days numbered for the working dog."


  1. I hope that doesn't come true for you, what would you do with all that knowledge? =)

  2. I thought this was a joke too when I saw it. I had images in my mind of the guardians beating sticks and waving hands and I thought "Oh, yeah, that isn't stressful."

    The world is going mad.

  3. Seriously?
    Sometimes we humans like to mess with nature for our own bloated egos. You go Johann!


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