Local dogs outperform in France
GRETA West sheep farmer Bill Scott has gained such a knack for breeding Kelpies that buyers from France are practically begging him for pups.
Mr Scott has been farming sheep and dairy cattle his entire life, but his dogs are where his true passion lies.
He grew up on a dairy farm in South Gippsland, but moved to Glenrowan years later, where he established the notable sheep farm Nioka, which spanned several thousand acres.
Now aged 69, Mr Scott has downsized somewhat, but his Kelpie stud Stockmans is still going from strength to strength.
So much so, that despite his best intention, a loyal international demand has grown for his bloodlines.
“I actually don’t like to export them,” said Mr Scott. “In fact, I refuse to in most cases.” He doesn’t usually like to send his dogs where he can’t make sure they are performing properly.
“I exported one to America about 30 years ago and since then, they have gone to Belgium, Denmark and France.”
Mr Scott has been breeding Kelpies for 38 years and started trialling them when he was just 17 years old.
“I started with Border Collies, but the Kelpies suit Australian conditions better than other breeds,” he said.
While some believe Kelpies have an undesirable independent streak, it is precisely what Mr Scott likes about them.
“I prefer a dog that will disobey me to do the right thing, than to do the wrong thing because I tell them,” he said.
“Because a dog can read the stock better than I can.”
He attributes the independence of the Kelpie to its historical dingo DNA – this also makes for a unique animal to be competing in European sheep trials.
The first of Mr Scott’s Kelpies made the trip to France four years ago, and proved to be a standout.
“Stockmans Hisa is winning trials against Border Collies, who win all of the trials there,” he said.
Despite his reluctance, he is now sending a second dog to the same family, who are willing to pay the $5000 for the Kelpie, and almost the same again for her transportation.
“There aren’t many Kelpies in France,” said Mr Scott.
“And they are hoping Stockmans Minnie will perform as well as Hisa.”
A DOG’S LIFE: Bill Scott mustering some ewes early in the morning with (from left) Stockmans’ Meggie, Gidgee and Annie.