News Good News Tasmanian duck farmer Matthew Crane uses kelpie Tildy to herd his free-range flock

Tasmanian duck farmer Matthew Crane uses kelpie Tildy to herd his free-range flock

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Farmer Matthew Crane has relied on working dogs to move stock his whole life.

And now that he is running a duck farm, not much has changed.

“If you’re trying to move [ducks] without a dog it’s actually quite difficult, ’cause they will go in every single different direction they can,” Mr Crane said.

“[So] it just made sense to have a duck dog here.”

And ever since an outgoing young kelpie called Tildy – or Matilda, if she’s in strife — moved onto the property, she has taken to the role like a duck to … well, water.

Tildy is introduced to the ducklings shortly after they hatch. Photo: ABC

The duties of a duck dog

Mr Crane runs about 3,000 free-range ducks on his farm near Launceston, and the birds need to be checked first thing every day.

“We … have a walk around all the flocks, and [Tildy] can pretty soon see if there’s anything wrong with any of the ducks,” he explained.

“If they don’t get away from her in a hurry, we know there’s something that needs looking at.”

Tildy went through a training process similar to that of sheep dogs. Photo: ABC

Tildy also moves the ducks between paddocks, which assists the farm’s two-legged staff.

“It takes a bit of the stress and the pressure out of people’s work if the dog’s there to help them with that,” Mr Crane said.

“[And] from the product-quality point of view and an animal-welfare point of view, that process being easier and less stressful is better for the ducks and better for the end consumer as well.”

Farmer Matt Crane with one of his flock. Photo: ABC

How to herd ducks

Tildy acquired her duck-herding skills through training, in a process similar to the training of sheep dogs.