2019 Article Cowgirl Philosophy
So, I have decided that I want to be featuring women livestock producers every month, if not more often. We are gonna feature women who have the COWS to go in cowgirl. This will include cattle, horses, stockdogs and OBVIOUSLY any other bad to the bone gals I feel you all should read about; because they’ll inspire you.
So first up is Susan Boyd of the Boyd Ranch in New Mexico. The Boyds run cattle, sell some insanely nice ranch horses and have beautiful working Aussies that are a huge part of their ranch and life. I got in touch with Susan and asked her a little bit about her dogs specifically. She is someone I consider a brilliant lady in the Aussie world and I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do!
1. Tell me about Aussies, why do you love them and what made you pick this breed?
I love the loyalty and devotion of an Aussie. My Aussies are happy to be anywhere I am and are my instinctive guardians . I have a large cattle ranch that sits on 25,000 acres (40 sections or 40 square miles). I work cattle a lot but not every day and my Aussies are easy to live with because they have an off switch. They are happy just being with me at the house, barn, riding fence, or swimming in a stock tank. Another nice thing about Aussies with natural instinct is they are very easy to train and they do well with pasture gathering and driving work and that’s how I mainly use my dogs. I’m drawn to some of the older working lines but most important to me is natural instinct, a sense of group, and a desire to work. I want them to think on their own and have a lot of stock sense but be able to come off stock if I call them back.
2. How are Aussies different from say a Border Collie or a Heeler? Personality wise and work wise?
I’ve had many different breeds of working dogs and they all have their value as a stock dog and excel at different jobs. I found this breed works best for me, because they suit what I like in a working dog, and for my large rough country. Aussies are an agile, upright, and close-working breed. They are loose eyed and I feel they excel on cattle because of this. They work closer and use their presence, wear, and if needed grip and bark to move cattle. I find they learn easily, even by just doing your chores with them, they pick up on what needs to be done. They are very honest and always want to help. They are a medium sized dog, and can get into a ground covering trot, and can travel all day. They fit very well working on my rough and brushy ranch. I do all most all of my cattle work horseback and with my Aussies. I don’t trailer from the headquarters to each pasture. I just leave on a horse and trot out to the pasture the cattle are in and then gather it to change pastures. Some days I’ll easily go 20 miles. My working bred Aussies can do this.
3. When did you start raising Aussies? What made you decide to raise them?
I’ve owned Aussies for about 20 years and started raising them about 15 years ago. I needed good Aussies here on the ranch and that was my first priority when I started raising them. Also, I had other ranchers wanting my dogs. It’s just my husband and I working on our ranch and without these good working Aussies we couldn’t do it without some full time help. A lot of ranches are the same and saw the value in these dogs and wanted them too. It took off from there and I now have Boyd Ranch Aussies working all over the world including Canada, Europe, South America, Mexico, and of course the US!
4. Can you tell me a little history on Aussies as a breed?
The breed is over 150 years old and was developed for a good ranch dog for the American West. They were bred for gathering and driving large herds of sheep and cattle and also to do pen work in close quarters. They were also bred to be guardians for the stock and for the family. The Australian Shepherd Club of America was founded in 1957 and is the largest single breed dog registry in North America.
5. What would you recommend for someone looking for an Aussie as a working dog?
I would look for working lines and from proven working parents. Some of the Aussie lines have divided into working and show. I would make sure you’re getting a pup from working lines. Kind of like getting a Quarter Horse. You can buy one with Cattle working bloodlines or Halter bloodlines and the Halter bloodlines might be able to help you work a cow but the Cattle working bloodlines should be able to help you work a cow. It definitely gives you the edge with some natural working ability. DNA genetic testing is now readily available. I would find a pup whose parents have been tested. Even if they aren’t clear of everything on the panel you will have some idea of what you’re getting health wise on testable genetic problems in the breed. I feel just about anyone with some dog or horse training skills can teach an Aussie who carries natural instinct to help them with their cattle chores. They are a smart breed and if you pack them around with you, they pick up on things pretty fast!
If you would like to get in contact with Susan you can find her on facebook by searching for Boyd Ranch. I will also tag her on the Instagram post!
Be sure to go follow her because she has beautiful photos of ranch life, her dogs and their livestock. Her website is listed below!
2017 an article and Video in Working Aussie Source about us.
WAS:Can you tell us about your operation?
My husband Curt and I purchased and established Boyd Ranch, LLC in 2004. It is situated on 25,000 acres and is located in Central NM about 75 miles SE of Albuquerque. The headquarters are in the old ghost town of Chupadera, NM. Over 100 years ago this town was a hopping little community and there is still the old Church here, where dances were held, and there also was a school house and several old farm houses and barns. Chupadera now has a population of 2 (just Curt and I), 16 Aussies, commercial cattle, and ranch horses.
How do you use your dogs?
Clothing Company Carhartt did a photo shoot at Boyd Ranch in 2016. Several of our photos were used on their website, catalog, and for store posters! We had many folks here from Carhartt along with the photographer Elliot Ross.
Boyd Ranch Was Featured In The Progressive Cattleman Magazine!
Some of Our Awards and Accomplishments: