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Calculating the value of herding dogs

E. R. Arnott, J. B. Early, C. M. Wade, P. D. McGreevy

HERDING dogs are used by livestock farmers worldwide to assist with stock handling. In Australia, livestock producers keep, on average, three working dogs each. The aim of this study was to estimate the net economic worth of stock herding dogs in Australia and compare this to the attitudes of the owners when making financial decisions relating to these animals.

An online survey was carried out over a three-month period in 2013. The survey was advertised on local and national newspapers and television programmes in Australia. It included questions on how farmers obtained their working dogs and at what cost, the amount of effort they put into training the dogs, the average yearly cost of food and healthcare per dog, and how much they would be willing to spend on veterinary bills to treat a serious illness or injury in their best herding dog.

Eight hundred and twelve responses were received, which provided details on 1806 dogs that were working at the time and 2221 that had been dismissed or retired. The median age at retirement of the dogs in the study sample was …

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