The Karmala Working Kelpie StudFAIRDINKUM HERITAGE KELPIES
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Karmala Kelpies are bred from old bloodlines concentrating on clever mustering dogs. Emphasis is put on a friendly, calm temperament, natural working ability and enough strength to get a job done. The dogs are of good type, fed a raw diet for future soundness, and bred carefully to avoid known health problems as much as possible. The stud has been based in Queensland for over fourteen years.
I have accessed old Kelpie families through the Karrawarra and Riana studs and I am very grateful for the help I have received from these experienced stud masters. Tony Parsons (Karrawarra) was responsible for seeking out and preserving Kelpie bloodlines after the fiasco of two World Wars, during which many ‘studs’ disappeared. His books on the Working Kelpie are an invaluable record of these dogs and are collectively known as ‘The Kelpie Bible’. Tony has always selected dogs with eye, style and distance. More recently he has published ‘Kelpie’.
The late Arthur Hazlett (Riana) founded his stud on Karrawarra kelpies and was one of the few Kelpie breeders of recent years who finessed the fine art of line breeding. Outside dogs were rarely introduced, and as a result his dogs were defined in type and prepotent. The old Riana dogs retained the stock minding ability that was required by all drovers; they were bred for many years in very tough country and selected for their brains and ability. The Glenville dogs bred by Bert Bromham had a big influence at Riana. Frank Scanlon was another breeder and stockman held in highest regard there.
It is the relentless culling by these old studmasters, and their singleminded search for their perfect dog, that has improved the breed over the years. No breeder of stock will achieve their ideal unless they have a very clear mental picture of exactly what they want to breed…. and pursue their aim relentlessly. I recently went delving through some old photos and came up with these archival images, below.
The Australian Working Kelpie is a breed developed to suit our demanding climate and large pastoral areas, but has proved an amazingly adaptable dog. Originally intended to work sheep, kelpies are now used to herd just about every variety of stock and are found world wide. The Working Kelpie is not to be confused with the Australian Kelpie which has been bred as a show dog, and has lost much of its herding ability and many of the original traits the breeds originally shared.
I like dogs that can work with a little distance off their stock when young and keep a small mob together.They should be happy to hold when they have them balanced. My dogs should also be capable of firing up for yard work… I don’t guarantee that every pup will comply exactly with this description, but some do, judging by this email received recently entitled ‘Zen and the art of sheepdog handling’…..
I know just how he feels. It was many years before I owned a really good, well bred dog. Once your stock work becomes a pleasure and you start looking forward to taking your dogs out, you’ll never settle for second best again.
In the last few decades, with the increasing use of bikes for mustering, some old kelpie traits are starting to disappear. Many dogs are now used mainly for yard work, and backing, barking, full-on kelpies are in the majority. I prefer an all-round dog that retains its heading instinct, has some eye, and is capable of mustering difficult country. With this in mind, I have sought sires with bloodlines that have been proven in hard conditions where brains and stamina are essential.
I noticed that a recent stud dispersal labelled dogs with similar breeding to Karmala dogs as Heritage Kelpies; they are our heritage from these old breeders and we should value their legacy and strive to maintain and improve it. I have tried to improve the strength of my original lines by the judicious use of related outcrosses to increase strength for cattle work. Breeding “best to best” doesn’t necessarily produce world beaters, and I am really happy with the consistent type of worker coming through the stud these days. ‘Type to type’ is more successful, and if the IB% can be around 15-18% that’s ideal.
The plethora of cooking shows on TV make it very plain that even the finest ingredients can give a disappointing result unless combined carefully, and the same applies to breeding animals. Each mating here is thought out with one aim in mind…to breed pups that have the potential to be better than their parents. I am indebted to David Hart for his help in working out possible matings with the help of Breeders’ Assistant. David has also been extremely generous in allowing me to use his sires, and my thanks also go to other studmasters who have helped me so much. It fast tracks progress enormously to have access to proven sires.
Because I have little real work for my dogs these days, I try to ensure that any young dogs kept for breeding are tested in the real world. I have been most fortunate in finding some very kind, like minded stockmen to help me do this, and can’t thank them enough for their efforts. It surely proves their dedication to the Kelpie breed. It’s sad that some fall by the wayside in the process; Karmala Spike, Riana Quill II, Karmala Swags, Karmala Codger, Karrawarra Quince and Karmala Pride all died far too young. This has changed my mind a bit about ‘proven’ breeding dogs. I am now quite anxious to get a litter from a very promising young dog/bitch in case it doesn’t live very long. Snakes are the curse of any dog breeder in Queensland.
When breeding stud animals of any description it seems to follow that ‘only the good die young’.
As the centenary of the ANZAC tradition approaches, we could also ponder what Australia would be like now if such an enormous percentage of our bravest and finest young men had not been killed in two world wars.
The sketch of Akubra is © to Pieter Zaadstra. http://www.zaadstra.com.au/
The maquette of Kelpie for which Karmala Akubra was the model is available from the Bodo Muche studio.
Shearing at Karrawarra 2003. Tony Parsons, the late Godfrey Schnitzerling and Karrawarra Rip III.
Tony Parsons and friends, 2003.
The late Arthur Hazlett in 2006 with sires Riana Lohti and Riana Raddle.
A nice Riana pup looks up to the boss.
The late Arthur Hazlett with some weaners by Karmala rams and a couple of nice stockhorse mares looking on.
Sculptor Bodo Muche used Karmala Akubra as the model for Kelpie.
Pieter Zaadstra's study of Karmala Akubra with some of my old show rams.
Three foundation brood bitches(left) Karrawarra Gift, Woorivale Spice and Riana Delta Dawn have handed over to the next gen. below...
Karmala Lily(Riana GlidexKarrawarra Gift IV)
Karmala Brandy(Glendon BennyxWorrivale Spice)
Karmala Cozzie(Karmala AkubraxKarmala Peggysue)Peg is exDelta.
Karmala Kahlua(Tracker Gibbs x Karmala Brandy)
Karmala Gemma (Riana Glide x Karrawarra Gift IV)
Karmala Remy(Riana Glide x Karmala Brandy)
Well most of the pups have arrived and I have a total of 33 from 5 bitches!!
I took Lily down to Molong in October for mating, she had the good taste to like Scanlon’s Chopper and cooperated beautifully; he’s a most impressive old dog, now twelve years old, but certainly doesn’t look it. He’s worked all his life and can do any job asked of him, one of those old fashioned, practical dogs with no hang ups, a cool head and a great attitude to life in general. I’d been told for years now that the Scanlon dogs had all but vanished, so was thrilled and excited to ‘find’ Chopper. The three pups are quite special, showing a lot of personality and individuality.
Coincidentally, John Gedye wrote of the late Frank Scanlon in the Nov. WKC Newsletter and I’m sure he won’t mind if I quote him. Frank would have liked Chopper.
Karmala Chanel by Whitehead’s Tracker x Karmala Lily has been kindly given back to me by Brad Middlebrook after a change of career path. Chanel has reared two good litters, the second to Karmala Crusta, which are working well. She’s a lovely bitch and was my pick of the litter; I swapped her for Tianne Hussey, Hannah’s dam, as a pup. Brad had her working well when she damaged her stifle jumping a fence.
A recent email from Emily Crozier contained some photos of mustering on their property, Karpa Kora Station near Pooncarrie in NSW. They muster a lot of feral goats which breed up quickly. Emily says The goats are just ferals and they look after the breeding side of things themselves. They’re all dropping kids at the minute, a lot of the nannies have 2-4 kids on them. I saw a nanny the other day looking after 8 kids, they wouldn’t have all been hers but she seemed to have adopted them all. Dad and I both just muster them up with the dogs throughout the year. I’ve found the goat mustering very addictive, once I start finding mobs I’m generally gone all day and sometimes keep going through the night, Dad does too. We both have separate dog teams, I think we have about 30 dogs between the two of us.
There seems to be more demand for certain colours when people order pups, with particular demand for blue/tans, creams and fawns, which I have no intention of trying to fill! Even the better coated blue and fawn pups seem to thin out down the sides with age, and those born without an undercoat can finish up with insufficient protection which can lead to infertility… amongst other complaints. Black/tans are much easier to keep looking in top condition as some red/tans get very rusty looking coats despite top feeding regimes. I often think it would be nice to keep another red/tan bitch pup, but as I get to know a litter I almost always lean towards a black/tan based, at that age, on temperament.
My back objected to feeding out hay, and for a couple of weeks I have had more time to spend online. I am disappointed that some Working Kelpies are being openly promoted as suitable for pets. I don’t think the way a dog behaves when taken to a cafe should be a selling point for his pups. My point is: if dogs are selected for certain traits above others, they become the dominant ones and in my humble opinion Working Kelpies should be bred for working ability, soundness and temperament. I know some Kelpies have a wonderful life in ‘pet’ homes, but only if the owners understand the enormous amount of time and energy they require when young. I field quite a few phone calls from people in town with frustrated kelpies they have bought elsewhere; the average family with both partners working simply hasn’t the time or energy left over after a day at work. Apparently Kelpies are one of the dominant breeds found in pounds in Australia, a result of the dogs’ frustration and their owners’ poor choice of breed. I also found a site where a lady is actively breeding kelpies ‘that don’t work’ for pets. She’s using some sires registered with the WKC….
You will see that I’ve finally learned how to put videos of the dogs up here. It’s lucky that the work a dog is doing isn’t dependent on the quality of the movie! It’s hard doing it on my own as I can’t see the screen on the little camera and have to guess.
Good reports have also come in of the Riana GlidexKarmala Kahlua litter, now working. Julie Turner(Clermont,Q), and Cailyn Muntelwit(Nebo,Q) are very happy. The bitch pup Emma Zeimer retained, Gin Fizz, is great.
‘Punter is a little ripper! He hasn’t had much work but every chance Frank gets he takes him out and he is really getting better and better every time! And he is the biggest dood! He is so funny! Big gangly legs! Hopefully his body grows into them! Haha but his work is very precise and nice to watch!’
Julie Turner now has Karmala Lace, the young bitch sitting on the ewe statue in the pics below, and is pleased with her work. Lisha Bennet called in this week on her way home with Lyndy and Peggysue was very pleased to see them again, she hopped up into Lisha’s Landcruiser when she was leaving! Peg worked for Lisha when Lyndy had her litter to K. Clyde.
I received these photos of Lisha Bennett’s two Karmala bitches last year. Lisha has been appointed Elder’s manager in Longreach and took her dogs along for a look at Kelpie! Great pix. Akubra was the model for the Kelpie statue. Lyndy has since made the cover of the Longreach Leader!
I have written a song/poem along the lines of ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ (promo for British Rail, I think) which became so popular on Youtube a year or two ago…only my version is about Kelpie pups.
Get a fright in a thunderstorm, test out your tree climbing form
That water bucket half full, would make a good swimming pool
A wool pack hung up for shade, chew it till a hole’s made
What’s that wriggling over there? Go check it now without a care…
Go exploring along the drive, about the worst way to stay alive…
There’s the lid off the Rametin drench, just get under the fence…
Kelpie pups grow very fast, but frequently they just don’t last
I am mixing my own raw diet and it’s so easy to start the pups on solids, they just get a bit of mum’s. DE(natural wormer, keeps the yards clean) and Big Dog Boost mixed with pet mince from the Allora butcher.They also get lamb bones every day. Everyone who has seen my dogs here asks what I feed them, so I’ll share a few things I’ve learned through referring all my questions on nutrition to Marina Angel Smith who has studied it in detail. Vet students study animal nutrition but it isn’t broken up into herbivores, carnivores and omnivores but treated as one subject; there is a huge difference in the digestion and diet of these groups of animals. Of course most vets are promoting dry foods in their practices(to their financial benefit, treating the resultant health problems). Pet food companies have so infiltrated the vet scene that in the States a text book on nutrition used in Vet. science courses is printed by one of them.
I know feeding raw food on farm can be time consuming and sometimes impossible, and that working dogs are considered ‘ better’ fed these days because of the convenience of dry food….BUT…..the working lifetime of dogs has been considerably reduced by grain based diets which cause arthritis etc at about 8 years. Marina’s dogs that have been on raw all their lives have consistently lived to 20 and she has a 16 year old bitch today who is still working well. Try to give your dogs at least a few raw feeds a week and use a good quality dry food if you have to, most are bulked out with grains and use processed offal for protein.
Many ‘old timers’ remember dogs who regularly lived to 15 and over, fed mainly on rabbits, ‘killer sheep’ and roos. These dogs often looked pretty lean but lived long and useful lives. The calcium in dry foods can’t be absorbed by dogs and their body puts out its own stores until it runs out. The only calcium with correct magnesium and potassium balance so dogs can absorb it is in bones…not surprising really! A bit like the Paleo diet so popular these days…just eating what dogs and humans were originally designed to eat must be better for health.
Be careful feeding roo meat and dry food, it’s not a good mix. Roo meat is OK for fat dogs, or with fat mixed, but takes a lot of digesting because of the high nitrogen fixation and takes as much energy to digest as it contains…in pregnant/whelping bitches this can result in milk fever and fitting, because of calcium being leached from their systems. The only way to remedy this is with bone meal or bones, not calcium syrup which can’t be absorbed by dogs. Often people add the syrup to pup food but they should be feeding them bones; small pups can eat chicken frames from about 6 weeks.
I am also vaccinating with nosodes available from HAMPL online. This homeopathic procedure produces immunity equal to vaccines with no side effects; tests have proven titers of the same level and it is now accepted by domestic airlines.
A bit of clarification on the WKC Appendix dogs for many of you who might not understand their system. If a dog is classified A2 or A3 it is in the Appendix to the main stud book and may not appear on WKC pedigree forms. This does not necessarily mean that the breeding of the dog is sketchy or unknown, simply that some of the dogs in its pedigree were bred by a breeder who was not a member of the WKC at the time. Karrawarra dogs come into this area, also any dog that has not been tattooed…amongst others. In many cases these dogs have full pedigrees going back many generations, often more complete than some others, but they do not appear on WKC generated pedigrees..
These Brock x Chanel pups are full of fun at 6 weeks.
Little K.Gucci wasn't upset about getting her tattoo.
Karmala Martini(Riana Glide x Karmala Kahlua) with K. Neon(left)
Emily Crozier with her team of dogs; all bitches except for Karmala Laser(Zac) who's looking pretty happy about the state of affairs!
Karmala Aggie(K.AkubraxK.Tilly) with goats on Karpa Kora Station. Emily and her father have their own teams of dogs and Aggie belongs to her dad.
Tracker WRX(Riana GlidexTracker Bliss)
Karmala Wager(ChancexLily) soaks up the moment!
The two little ChancexBrandy girls, 6 weeks.
Chance working by sound, you wouldn't guess he's blind.
Karmala Lyndy, owned by Lisha Bennett.
Karmala Lyndy.."I can do that!"
Karmala Lace(K.AkubraxK.Lily) "Do you think I look like dad?"
Lyndy and Lace
Akubra entertaining the crowd before the unveiling.
Karmala Lyndy, owned by Lisha Bennett, with her litter by Karmala Clyde. This mating has a lot of meaning for me....Clyde was one of the first litter I bred in Queensland(Driftwood ClydexW.Spice). He was owned by Peter Whiteman who was killed in a mustering accident on Mt Margaret not long after Lyndy was mated. Peter was a highly regarded, experienced manager and was looking forward to retirement. A very sad loss.
Karmala Cozzie(AkubraxPeg), 6 mths.
Karmala Mulga(Birk) is working well for Ewa Jacobsson in Sweden.
Karmala Kelpie Kards and Karmala Local Bird Cards
Singles or sets of cards featuring Kelpie pups and birds from my Gallery show. Choose which pics and colours you prefer.
The Karmala Merino Stud
These are big, productive sheep with quality wool, and can reduce the micron in stronger flocks without loss of cut… and increase production in finer flocks without increasing micron. This is stated with confidence based on the results in clients’ flocks over many years. An excellent selection of rams is guaranteed as I have few ram clients since moving to Queensland.
At Karmala micron, quality and production are the chief selection criteria. The infusion of genetics from Rockbank has given a finer ewe base and more elite-woolled sheep. An AI programme using N.43 has provided a number of ewes which when mated to old NB produced some outstanding sheep. Another Nerstane ram has been used in 2011 and 2 two tooth daughters did well at the recent 2013 State Sheep Show at Roma, the medium wool ewe beating all other Q’land ewes.
Karmala won Queensland Ewe of the Year again this year, 2013, with ‘Maddie’ Reserve Champion Fine wool ewe, 16 mic., that ran second to the Grand Champion Ewe of the Show….this ewe was later the Supreme Exhibit at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show. The fleece from ‘Maddie’ was Grand Champion Fleece at the EKKA, 2013.
In 2012 Karmala won Champion Stud Ewe Fleece at the EKKA; this weaner ewe was Res. Champ.Fine Ewe at the State Sheep Show.
The State Sheep Show at Goondiwindi, May, 2010, proved a bonanza for Karmala, Harry and Liz, the Queensland Pair from 2009 are now Queensland Ram and Ewe for 2010, and Harry was Grand Champion Ram! The second time for Liz, who has a big ram lamb as well…she’s certainly not just a pretty face… but it certainly did nothing to improve her underline, which cost her in the judging.
Dubbo is changing to a short wool show with March shorn sheep totally dominant; this is understandable considering the cost involved in preparing a sheep for 12 months, but can give a very misleading picture of how a young ram will finish up.
An article in Bush Telegraph.
Read more about the Karmala Merino Stud
Karmala Maddie, Queensland Ewe of the Year 2013, being admired by the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley.
State Sheep Show 2012, Blackall. My ewe being sashed(l), Will Roberts checks out her wool, Rob Mullen the judge gives me a big surprise(r).
Sale rams March 2012, aged 16 months.