Sheep Management at the Trials

Sheep are the players at the Kingston trials. Their management is important for the trial, not just from a good shepherding standpoint, but also because sheep need to be fit for each competitor that approaches the post. Our job to provide even sheep for Canada’s biggest trial, is one we take seriously.

To that end we attend them carefully. Sandra Massey from Dayton, Nevada; Brian Cash from Gay, Georgia, and Hamish McMaster from Indian River are their shepherds this year--they shall not want. They are trucked to Grass Creek, from Picton, by one with years of experience moving livestock. They arrive with minimal jostling, at cool times of the day if heat is an issue. Once unloaded, they take in the park, for twenty four hours, “settling in.” At night they are folded up to their new set out digs, at the north end of the park, where they can be protected from brush wolves. They are released at day break, to graze for an hour before the start of the trial. When we need to feed, we feed only top quality second cut hay, encouraging the flock to fortify themselves, between runs, both in the exhaust and at the set out. They have water at all times and access to shade. Since the City of Kingston acquired the property adjacent to Grass Creek, we have rotated the sheep through the new land. They make a great job of tidying it up with grazing, in the penultimate environmentally friendly means of clearing overgrown land. The sheep are moved through the set out handling equipment by a pair of experienced shepherds.

Nearly 650 sheep comprise the trial flock. They are sorted as much as possible at Waupoos, by Erin Roughan, Bob Fleugal, ensuring sound, healthy sheep climb on the truck. Uniformity is one of the goals of the sort—all white or broccle faced sheep are preferred, for similarity of temperament and type. Even sheep provide a level playing field for each dog and hand, a responsibility of trial management. Every handler will have four fresh sheep for the qualifying trials. Sheep will be rerun for the second qualifying trial, and once again for the final championship on Sunday.

We take care of the sheep. But the Pittsburgh Community Benefit Fund picked up the tab for bringing them here. A warm “thank you” to all of the directors of the fund that supported this trial in its twenty eighth year. Thanks for the sheep!