14 July 2023

Is Bat the hardest working dog in Australia? Renee sure thinks so

| Gail Eastaway
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Bombala farm hand Renee Hayter and are dog Bat.

Renee Hayter and five-year-old Bat from Bombala are contesting the Cobber Dog Challenge this year. Photo: Porter Novelli.

The value of a good working dog to the average farmer is almost inestimable.

Often considered at least as valuable as a farmhand, a good working dog, like a good horse, makes life so much easier on the farm.

The value of Australia’s canine workforce has been put to the test in recent years in the Cobber Challenge, and this year is no different.

Cobber has worked side-by-side with those that work, live and love this great land of ours, for more than 30 years.

In that time the company has learnt that farming in Australia is not like farming anywhere else in the world.

It has its unique opportunities and challenges, and requires a toughness and resilience from both the farmer and their dogs.

The Cobber Challenge is a celebration of the unsung heroes of farms across the countries. From humble beginnings in 2016, the Cobber Challenge has become a worldwide phenomenon, with people all over the globe enthralled in the celebration.

But what makes the Cobber Challenge so successful?

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Competing dogs are given a GPS collar that tracks their distance, working duration and speed over a three-week period.

Points are accorded, the dogs are ranked and by the end of the challenge a new Cobber Champion is announced.

In the past few competitions, individual dogs have regularly clocked more than 50 km in a day, highlighting what a vital member of the team they are.

In the Snowy Monaro, one young lady is up for the Cobber Challenge. She and her five-year-old kelpie Bat are in it to win it.

Renee Hayter moved to Bombala from Canberra a little over four years ago.

Renee originally found work as a truck driver, but for the past two and a bit years has been employed as a farmhand, a job she thoroughly enjoys.

During that time, Renee has been training her dogs to work on the farm.

While she has seven dogs in total, only five are actually in work.

Renee acquired Bat from breeders in Hamilton, Victoria, about six months ago. She liked him because of his versatility – he is good with sheep and cattle and equally useful in the sheepyards as in the paddocks.

Renee admires how hardworking he is, but considers him a bit of a ‘grumpy old man’, keen to get on with the job at hand.

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Only this week, Renee put the GPS collar on Bat and he recorded 55 km in just one day.

His distance on a really busy day remains to be seen, but 55 km is a fair distance to run.

Renee won’t have a lot of work for Bat for a short while, while calving is taking place, but she is confident Bat will get his three weeks of assessment time.

Asked what diet Bat has, Renee said he was fed Cobber dog food with the occasional addition of meat, if there was a sheep or cow casualty on the farm.

Renee is looking forward to the results of the challenge to see how her grumpy old man stacks up against the opposition.

Competitors in the challenge come from a diverse environment from across Australia and New Zealand and range in age from two to nine years.

To find out more, head to The Cobber Challenge website.

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