On Sunday, the national final of herding dogs on cattle takes place next to the Loudes aerodrome. Among the 21 finalists, Julien Delabre will be the only candidate from Haute-Loire.
At GAEC Vach’Mont Bio in Tence, Oslo, a 3-year-old border collie obeys the finger and eye of Julien Delabre’s orders. The breeder uses his dog daily to move his herd of Gersian cows between the barn and the meadows. “Without Oslo, there would have to be 3 or 4 of us morning and evening.”
The local farmer had tried a friendly competition to gauge their level. Faced with the encouragement of this first attempt, he participated in a qualifier in the Allier. He took second place in the competition, qualifying for the national final on Sunday. He will be opposed to 20 other breeders for the title of champion of France.
What the dogs should do
Competitors will have to complete a 2 km course driving a group of 5 heifers in less than 20 minutes. The driver first sends his dog to fetch the cows 400 meters away. The dog, guided by the shepherd, brings the cows back, stabilizes them, makes them pass between barriers and ends with a climb in a cattle truck.
All these maneuvers represent the work of herding dogs on farms. “We will have to manage the heat, the stress and especially the ambient noise.”
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, August 14, the passages will be linked from 8 to 17 hours. 55 heifers will be used during the day, i.e. two passages per batch. We will mainly find the border collie, but the breeders also use the beauceron, the Pyrenean shepherd, the Australian shepherd, the kelpie… The order of passage will be known on Saturday evening after a draw.
Entertainment all day
Several food-trucks will be set up at lunchtime. And entertainment will accompany the event: make-up for children, horse-drawn carriage rides, inflatable structures, herding dog competition for children on flocks of sheep, and a market for producers and crafts.
Admission will be €4 per person.