Cobber Stories & Media

Farm dogs Jack and Jill lead the Cobber Challenge

26 August 2021

The 12 dogs vying for the title of the hardest working farm dog in Australia and New Zealand have put in a tremendous effort in the first half of the 2021 Cobber Challenge.

Victorian dog Skyblue Jack has clocked up 513.5 kilometres to put him in the overall leader position by day 10 of the three-week competition.

The six-year-old Kelpie has worked 45 hours recording an average speed of 11.41 km/hour.

Jack’s strong performance comes as a pleasant surprise for owner Ben Jeffery.

“Jack’s happiest when he’s working, but he’s stepped it up. I’ve never seen him so happy and fit. He’s wagging his tail and running all day. He’s just working so well for me.”

Jack spent two months before the Cobber Challenge slowly recovering from an injury – he had to have a dewclaw removed after a fight with another dog. Ben is thrilled his main dog was match fit for the competition.

“I couldn’t be prouder of him,” Ben says.

Ben and Jack work at Mepungah Pastoral in Wannon in Victoria's Western District. Split over a few properties, the operation spans 3200 hectares and they run 28,000 sheep and about 1000 head of cattle.

They have been working dawn to dusk most days – drenching sheep and checking on other mobs that are lambing. They’ve also been rounding up a few cheeky cattle that have gotten into the wrong paddocks.

In second place midway through the Cobber Challenge is fellow Victorian Kelpie, Glenlyon Jill. She has recorded 347.82 km over a total time of 37 hours, to achieve an average speed of 9.31 km/h.

Jill’s owner James Leahy says he’s enjoying seeing the data at the end of each day: “It’s a good representation of my working dog.”

The Cobber Challenge is in its sixth year. Organiser Kellie Savage, Cobber’s Marketing Manager, says these dogs are on track to beat the record of 835 km, set by Glenda Rogan and her dog Buddy last year.

“The amount of work these dogs have done is incredible. And while these two Victorian dogs are in the lead, there is still plenty of time for other competitors to make a late run,” Kellie says.

“Look at Koby from NSW and Pine from New Zealand, they are nipping at their heels!”

It is the first time New Zealand dogs have competed, and the country is represented by three Heading Dogs. Pine from Ashburton on the South Island is currently ranked the highest, after helping owner Cam Clayton move sheep for pre-lamb shearing.

Owner Cam Clayton says the Cobber Challenge has helped him realise how much Pine actually works.

“I fully appreciate the dogs for their hard running efforts and ability to do the job but the sheer distance they cover is just astonishing.”

In the second half of the competition, Cam and Pine will be sorting cattle for pre-calving and getting the ewes set for lambing.

In true sporting behaviour, an injured ankle is holding back fellow Kiwi competitor, Josh Tosh from working his normal hours with dog Trix. But he’s doing all he can to get Trix out in the paddocks and submitting her GPS data.

The 12 competing dogs are wearing a GPS collar to record the distance, duration and average speed worked. The Cobber Challenge runs for three weeks and this year will finish on Sunday 5th September, with the Cobber Champion announced the following day.

Kellie says the impressive work done by all competitors highlights the importance of working dogs to agriculture across Australia and New Zealand.

Cobber Working Dog Food provides the fuel for the dogs competing in the Cobber Challenge as well as thousands of others working hard every day around the country.

Data is uploaded each day. People can follow the performance of their favourite dog at and on the Cobber Dog Facebook page.

Competitors for the 2021 Cobber Challenge

New Zealand

  • Cam Clayton and Pine, from Ashburton, Canterbury
  • Josh Tosh and Trix, from Dipton, Southland
  • Peter Aitken and Spark, from Millers Flat, Otago


  • Antony Mulder and Narroonda Ritz, from Prairie, Queensland
  • James Knight and Krui Snowy, from Devon Park, Queensland
  • Daniel Pumpa and Turbo, from Koorawatha, NSW
  • Emma Stocks and Koby, from Coolac, NSW
  • Bradley Dunlop and Roxy, from Wanganella, NSW
  • Rob Sibley and Boof, from Kojonup, WA
  • Ben Jeffery and Skyblue Jack, from Wannon, Victoria
  • James Leahy and Glenlyon Jill, from Highlands, Victoria
  • Bree How and Kit, from Oatlands, Tasmania


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