A farmer has a herd of 100 cows with their calves and 5 bulls grazing loose on a 160 acre parcel of land. That is 205 head of cattle. Some are near the dug out getting water, others are spread out grazing, still others are sleeping lazily in the shade of the trees in the far corner across a dry creek bed. Today, the farmer needs to bring them all in for handling and processing. Ear tags need to be replaced or fixed, vaccinations need to be given to prevent communicable disease, and medication to counteract worms and parasites the cattle have picked up over the summer needs to be administered. In addition, a few of the cattle look like they may have picked up infections in their feet, a common cattle ailment called footrot, that needs to be treated with antibiotics. What a chore this is going to be! Fortunately, this farmer has a wonderful border collie named Trixie, who is going to help out and make this job a whole lot easier. Between the farmer on his quad, his kids on foot, and smart cattle herding dog, Trixie, the herd is gathered up in no time. Trixie runs to the right, and the left, on direction, gathering up the cattle into a herd, and then nipping at their heels and barking, to drive them back to the yard site, through the gate, and into a corral, where the cattle can then be moved into a handling system, and given important medical care to keep them healthy.
You should ensure you have a dog with the aptitude and ability to herd cattle before initiating training. Dogs used for herding cattle must be of a breed with a natural aptitude for herding. There are 25 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club as herding breeds. A cattle herding dog needs to be of sufficient size and physical and mental ability to work with cattle. Smaller dogs, timid dogs, or dogs with any physical impairment or orthopedic conditions may not be appropriate, as quick responses and movements to avoid injury working with cattle are required. Prior to work with cattle, herding dogs should know basic obedience commands such as come, sit, and stay. Herding dogs are often initially taught control around livestock with the use of a long lead line.