It's a bull market in sheepdogs

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The Independent Online
SHEEPDOGS, who have been losing some of their rounding-up jobs on the farm to Japanese four-wheel quad-bikes, are biting back, writes Roger Dobson

With fewer sheepdogs being trained, there is now a shortage of animals and prices have escalated. Two sheepdogs sold recently at auction in mid-Wales fetched more than pounds 1,300 each.

Yesterday as the International Trials, the Blue Riband of the sheepdog world, ended in north Wales, the NFU Mutual Insurance Company said it had paid out pounds 1,900 on a life insurance policy for a sheepdog that died.With values going up, more than 25,000 sheepdogs have now been insured against death, theft, straying, and falling down pot holes. As prices have risen over the last five years, the number of thefts has also increased.

A special sheepdog auction, to be held at Sennybridge, mid-Wales next month, is expected to see prices break through the pounds 1,500 mark.

Auctioneer Gareth Griffiths, a partner in Clee Thompkinson, said: "Prices have gone up. There's a shortage of dogs and I think traditions are changing on farms, with the younger generation more mechanically-minded and less likely to go out in the evenings to train their dogs.

"These dogs are being brought in instead of home-trained ones and prices as a result are increasing."

The NFU Mutual insures several thousand dogs for a premium of pounds 7 a year plus a percentage sum linked to the value of the dog. Company spokesman Tim Price said: "Sheepdogs are increasing in value and we are now insuring them for a variety of things, from death to loss through straying. We also insure dogs for rescue costs, the cost of advertising if a dog is lost, and we pay rewards too."