Stock dog demonstrations show value of canines on ranch

Stock dog demonstrations at Husker Harvest Days give visitors a chance to see dogs from the early stages of training to those with developed herding skills.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

July 24, 2019

2 Min Read
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MOVING THEM AROUND: Stock dog demonstrations allow HHD guests to see the evolution of training that goes into developing a useful, strong stock dog for the farm and ranch. Handlers show audiences dogs that are in the earliest stages of training and those that have specific skills already developed. Curt Arens

A good cattle dog can make life on a livestock farm much easier. But how does your farm dog stack up? And how do you train your young dogs to be useful helpers in working livestock on your farm or ranch operation?

Those questions could be answered at the popular Stock Dog demonstrations, running daily at Husker Harvest Days, Sept. 10-12 at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., along the north side of Flag Road just outside the exhibit field. Thanks to Tim Gifford, Gifford Border Collies of Harrisburg, Neb., and a member of the National Cattledog Association and U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association, audiences can learn how to train cattle dogs to work stock, using the natural instincts the dogs already have.

The Stock Dog demonstrations will vary from young, inexperienced dogs to seasoned older dogs, to give visitors a chance to see a wide range of experience in action. Gifford has been working with stock dogs for more than 12 years. He has been on the ranch all of his life, so he also knows livestock.

Today, he runs a cow-calf herd and backgrounds calves, and he uses dogs extensively in his operation. “I use my dogs to gather cattle, move cattle from pasture to pasture or sort cattle in an alleyway,” Gifford explains. “I work alone a lot with my dogs.”

Gifford also travels around the country for cattle dog trials and competitions, as well as for training clinics and workshops like those at HHD.

Visitors to the Stock Dog demonstrations can expect to learn how to properly raise a puppy that can become a successful ranch dog, and how a working dog can be useful to the farm and ranch. “Everyone starts out with a puppy that seems a little out of control,” Gifford says. “But it is fun for audiences at Husker Harvest Days to see the progression of training, and how the dogs come along.”

Have pros work with your dog

Now in their ninth year at HHD, Stock Dog demonstrations also provide a unique opportunity for you to bring your own dog to be worked by professional dog handlers. This gives your dog the chance to work with experienced dog handlers and trainers, to bring the dog along on the training journey. If you bring your own dog, remember that the dog must stay in the demonstration area and is not allowed on the HHD exhibit field. If you are interested in bringing your own dog or would like more information on the Stock Dog demonstrations at HHD, contact Gifford at [email protected] or call 308-631-0387. There will be a fee to work your dog, and you must sign a waiver.


About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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