Your Border Collie loves to work; this breed has been used as herding animals and working dogs since time immemorial. But, just because a certain breed has been bred to herd other animals, this doesn’t mean he is born automatically knowing the herding commands and how to obey them. He still must be properly trained before he truly knows what to do. It is up to you to train him properly.
In order to be a good herding dog, your pup must have the intelligence, agility, and drive to do so. Herding does take advantage of the Border Collie's natural instincts by enhancing them with the proper training. Just remember, especially with cattle, there is a very high potential for injury to your pup. Be sure to keep an eye on your dog until he is used to being around the cattle and has learned to master the herding commands.
A good herding dog can be of incredible value to your farm. He can help move the entire herd as needed or go out and bring a straggler or wandering cow back to the herd. However, you do need to know up front that it takes a long time to train the perfect herding dog. One that is not properly trained can be more of a liability than a benefit so be sure your pup has mastered at least the four basic herding commands before you turn him loose on the herd.
Your pup's safety is in your hands as it is very easy for him to get stepped on or head-butted by one or more of your cattle. Pay close attention to your pup's every move during the early stages of training, at least until he has mastered the commands and learned how to stay away from the cattle. Bear in mind, he does not need to get underfoot (under hoof?) to move the herd, but he will soon learn where his working position is with the herd.
The best age for your pup to be a master herder is between the ages of four and eight years. However, the younger he is when you start training him to herd your cattle, the better. The younger you start, the easier it will be for your pup to get used to being around the cattle. However, before you start the training, you should have your vet confirm your pup is physically capable of doing the job. Typically, you should be able to start training your pup around the age of 8 to 12 months.