What we're talking about

Last Updated:  30 September 2017

2017 AGM

No changes to Rules or Constitution.

Copies of the Minutes for both the AGM and the General Meeting were included in the September 2017 newsletter.

2016 AGM

No changes to Rules or Constitution.

Copies of the Minutes for both the AGM and the General Meeting were included in the December 2016 newsletter.


The University of Sydney has published the results of its research into Australian farm dogs, which was started a few years ago.

In total, the research collected data on over 4,000 dogs from over 800 working dog owners around Australia including a number of NSWYDA members. 

It was funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), with in-kind support from the Working Kelpie Council (WKC).

The research looked at what aspects influence dog performance, breeding and selection success.

Interesting findings include:

  • Factors associated with success rates, such as "owners competing in working dog trials had a significantly greater chance of reporting average or above average success rates."
  • The contribution livestock working dogs make to the agricultural industry, such as the value of work performed by a dog throughout their working life is estimated at $40,000, with a 5.2 fold return on investment for the owner
  • Australian farm dogs are a robust and healthy group, with a median retirement age of 10 years and the capability to run in excess of 40km a day, reaching speeds of 37 km per hour
  • Ways to optimise the performance and selection of livestock working dogs, reduce wastage rates, and increase profitability and welfare, such as
    • Above average success rates were associated with a series of management factors including housing dogs in yards (especially with company), exercising dogs daily, positive reinforcement training, trial participation and aspects of owner personality. 
    • Below average success rates were associated with factors such as electric shock collar use, acquiring fully trained, older dogs, and lack of insurance for dogs. 

Read the full report

Read a published article focusing on environmental factors associated with success rates


2015 AGM

No changes to Rules.

Copies of the Minutes for both the AGM and the General Meeting were included with the September 2015 newsletter to members.

Member survey results discussed at the 2015 AGM

During 2014-15, we undertook a survey of members’ views and ideas on risks and opportunities for the Association.

We spoke to 71 members (28% of overall membership).

Thanks to all those who gave time to share their thoughts.

A report was presented at the 2015 AGM. The Executive will use the Report to help make decisions going forward.

Members’ views and ideas included:

About costs and benefits

  • Top 5 benefits of membership: 1 Community, 2 Judging, 3 Competing, 4 Learning and 5 Consistent Rules to support the sport
  • Top 5 costs of trialling: 1 Fuel, 2 Accommodation, 3 Show Entry, 4 Time off work and 5 Trial Entry
  • Like to see the Association better explain the purpose and value of Affiliation/Administration Fee for trial organisers, and how to get the most benefit from affiliation
  • Like to see the Association generate more revenue to keep costs down by:
    • Ramping up the merchandise again such as t- shirts, shirts, jumpers, hats, calendars, whistles, badges, tea towels, statues, key rings, calendars, photo books, car stickers, insurance
    • Pursuing a sponsorship/partnership with a non-dog business such as fuel, tyres, farm equipment, fencing, shade cloth, chemicals and Agri banks and insurance.
    • Offering newsletter online but ONLY if post option remains
    • Letting members pay and renew fees online but ONLY if post option remains

About animal welfare

  • 63% of members surveyed believe we need to better promote what we already do to ensure the welfare of sheep and dogs
  • The welfare of sheep and dogs is a joint effort by triallers, judges, organisers and committee members … everyone has a role to play and everyone needs to know our rules eg. Welfare is covered in the Rule Book – Section 14
  • Trialling was established to showcase the benefits of good (efficient and safe) sheep work in yards. Trialing can help improve dog and stock handling at home. A NSWYDA trial should always aim to set an example of good stockmanship/animal husbandry.
  • Like to see more announcements over PA systems at trials to educate audiences
  • Like to see the Association have a bit more presence at trials with Committee members clearly identified
  • Like to see more education opportunities for triallers from non-farming backgrounds
  • Like to see the Association stay in touch with policy decision makers so we know what’s happening that might affect us

About promotion

  • 89% of members surveyed believe we would benefit from more people knowing about what we do and what we stand for … but we need to stay focused, not go overboard
  • We are a showcase for our industry that can help educate people about farming and stockmanship/animal husbandry
  • A good trial is the best promotion – we need to promote our sport by always making it great to watch
  • Like to see more promotion of our history to members
  • Like to see more promotion of the benefits of working stock with dogs and trialling if you're working on the land
  • Like to see more promotion in local communities to help get sponsors

About communication with members

  • Preferred methods of communication are: 1 Post, 2 Email, 3 In Person (at trials) and 4 Phone if urgent
  • 80% of members surveyed use the website but would like to see some improvements made, such as: make it more mobile-friendly because internet connection at home is not great, combine Events and Entry Form pages into one to save time and have a page on the Association and its history
  • 80% of trial organisers surveyed would like a bit more support to organise a trial such as: standard entry form, talking points, tips on how to get sponsors, answers to frequently asked questions about the Association
  • 81% of members surveyed read the newsletter but would like to see more trial reports, photos, stories, news from the Committee … and jokes
  • 52% of members surveyed asked for newsletter to be available online

Inquiry into Animal Breeding Practices in NSW discussed at the 2015 AGM

In May 2015, the NSW Government created a Senate Select Committee to review animal welfare practices in the State, with a focus on ‘puppy farms’. Submissions were asked for by 15 June and three public hearings were held in Sydney and Armidale in July.

Similar reviews have been conducted in Victoria, to the detriment of working dog owners and breeders, and South Australia which had better results as the Government consulted with the SA Yard Dog Association.

Of the 344 submissions, only a couple were from working dog owners and breeders. The Association was part of one of those submissions, by the Australian Federation of Livestock Working Dogs 

We also sent in a separate email (see below) outlining specific concerns about the practicalities, cost and fairness of the NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice standards for:

  • microchipping all puppies
  • size specifications for dog enclosures
  • bedding requirements
  • euthanasia of dogs, particularly the required use of vets

The Review concluded on 31 August with the Senate Committee submitting a report to Parliament. This included a recommendation that the NSW Animal Welfare Advisory Council review the Code of Practice.

If Parliament agrees to the recommendation, the Federation and the NSWYDA as a member of the Federation, will again communicate our concerns.

In its Report, the Senate Committee did state that “… working dogs are not a central focus of the inquiry.” However, by law, the Code applies to anyone who owns and breed dogs in NSW, so it is worth having our voice heard.

Our email to the Senate Select Committee

Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

Subject: Inquiry into companion animal breeding practices in NSW - practical considerations for working dog breeders

To: [email protected]

Attention: Adam Marshall, Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Companion Animal Breeding Practices in New South Wales

Dear Sir

I write on behalf of the NSW Yard Dog Association to ask the Committee to consider the practicalities, cost and fairness of standards and guidelines for working dog breeders.

We are aware that submissions for this enquiry are now closed; and that the Committee is preparing its report which it will present to Parliament by 31 August.

However, we have been advised by your Committees Branch staff that you might still be able to take into account some final considerations; particularly as there were few submissions from working dog breeders and the Committee did not take up the offer of input from the Australian Federation for Livestock Working Dogs (Submission No.341).

About us

Our Association aims to promote public interest in working dogs and responsible animal husbandry through the sport of yard and utility dog trialling. We run over 50 trials a year, generally at agricultural shows, throughout NSW.

Our members are over 200 stock men and women who work with dogs in their everyday jobs as part of NSW's agricultural industry. We work long hours, sometimes hundreds of kilometres from towns and most of us are at the low end of the minimum wage scale.

We breed dogs to work as opposed to making a profit.  Some of us have spent many years breeding dogs with attributes suitable for safe and efficient stock work such as athleticism, intelligence, sound minds and versatility. Most of us only breed occasionally. 

The value of our dogs is inestimable to us. They do the work of one or two other people. They work with us from dawn to dusk. We cannot do our work without them. Their wellbeing and health is paramount.

Our perspective

Protecting the welfare of working dogs is simply good animal husbandry, good stockmanship and common sense.

As such, we support the need for a code to guide dog breeders who aim to do the right thing and penalise those who do not.

However, a number of standards and guidelines in the existing 'NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice - Breeding Dogs and Cats' are impractical, unfair and cost-prohibitive for working dog breeders on the land.

Particularly, any rises in costs of breeding may put breeding and/or purchasing a working dog beyond the means of the average stock man or woman.

We were concerned with the changes to the Code in Victoria which has greatly disadvantaged working dog breeders. 

Conversely, we were encouraged with the results in South Australia where the Government and the Dog and Cat Management Board actively sought the advice of working dog breeders; and its Code now recognises the differences between pet dogs and working dogs.

We ask the Committee to give consideration to the practicalities, cost and fairness for working dog breeders in finalising the following standards and guidelines in the Code:

Section 3 Interpretations and Definitions

  • Recognise that breeding is not always for sale/profit but for some it is about being able to undertake their work as part of the State's agricultural industry
  • Include definitions of different types of dogs for breeding purposes, for example pet dog, working dog, aid dog etc...

Section 5 Quality Management Systems

  • 5.1 Standard for reporting on microchip number
    • It is impractical and cost-prohibitive for working dog breeders on the land to microchip dogs. 
    • This also relates to Section 9

Section 6 Animal Housing

  • Standard for bedding
    • Dogs' sleeping areas should always be hygienic and dry, but it is impractical and counter-productive for working dog breeders to provide 'soft' bedding.  
    • Table 1 Standard for size of dog enclosures
    • Dog enclosures should allow for the dog to stand and lie down comfortably, but it is impractical and cost-prohibitive for working dog breeders to build (and in many cases rebuild) enclosures to the specific size specifications outlined in Table 1

Section 7 Animal Management

  • Standard for minimum daily exercise
    • It is impractical to restrict time off for working dogs who often require rest for a day or two after hard work
  • 7.3 Cleaning and disinfection
    • Recommend this section be renamed Cleaning and Hygiene. Use of disinfectants is impractical and cost-prohibitive for working dog breeders. Sunshine is a powerful disinfectant.
  • Standard for weekly disinfection
    • Enclosures should always be clean and hygienic, particularly for breeding bitches, but it is impractical and cost-prohibitive for working dog breeders to 'disinfect' enclosures on a weekly basis. We disinfect only when there is a specific need such as sickness or new dogs coming in.
  • 7.4 Standards for restraint during transport
    • This section needs to recognise dogs who are 'on the job'. For example, it is impractical and counter-productive to restrain dogs on vehicles when they are moving cattle and sheep and need to get on and off the vehicle quickly.
  • Standard for minimum exercise requirements during transport
    • As per above, we recommend qualifying this for working dogs to be exercised as they would be at home

Section 8 Animal Health

  • + Standards for euthanasia
    • It is impractical, cost-prohibitive (and in some cases cruel to the dog if you are hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest vet) for working dog owners to have to consult and use a vet if a dog requires euthanasia.

Section 9 Transfer of Ownership

  • Standard for minimum age of puppies
    • It is vital that puppies are not rehomed until they are fully independent of their mother, but this can sometimes take more than 8 weeks
  • Standard for vaccination
    • In South Australia, there was a number of people opposed to vaccination in line with the current debate around human babies. It is vital for NSW's agricultural industry to minimise the risk of disease and infection and we encourage the Committee to retain a strong position on vaccination.
  • Standard for microchipping 
    • As per 5.1 above, it is impractical and cost-prohibitive for working dog breeders on the land to microchip dogs.

I thank you and the Committee for taking the time to consider this. I also want to pass on my appreciation to David Hale and his colleagues in the Committees Branch - they have been very helpful and efficient.

Jenny Cox

Senior Vice-President 

NSW Yard Dog Association

email [email protected]

web www.yarddogsnsw.com

member www.austfederationlivestockworkingdogs.org


2014 AGM

No changes to Rules.

2013 AGM

Rule Book pages containing updates as at 31 July 2013, will be sent to Members with the September Newsletter.

Please ensure that you read through the Rule Book. The change made is outlined below:-

Rule 18.6.1 to read That there be a maximum of sixteen (16) Qualifying Championships decided upon for the NSW Championships.






New South Wales Yard Dog Association Inc.

CONTACT Felicity Nolan, Executive Secretary
POST PO Box 413, Forbes NSW 2871
PHONE 0400 951 717
EMAIL [email protected]

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