I have known John (Jock) Mackay my whole life. As a kid, Jock taught me how to break in a horse, train a sheep dog and handle weaner sheep and cattle. I loved the experiance and the stories from Jocks days on the professional rodeo circuit in the USA, droving and pack horses. In my early twenties I had a aerial mustering business in western Qld. Jock was my only client who spent time with his dogs training his weaner sheep on handling. From the air and the ground Jock's stock were always the best to handle. It was not really a muster but a migration with a lot less stock stress than normal. Jock has always had a natural ability and a life long passion for training animals and has developed a deep insight and understanding into animal psychology. During the industrialisation of the livestock industry, a huge hidden cost of livestock stress. From weight loss, bruising, mis-mothering of calves, OH&S, wear and tear of fences, yards, vehicles and staff the costs of ignoring livestock stress are enormous. Jock has developed a proprietary method for very efficient and timely weaner training without the use of dogs as opposed to tailing (a big difference as tailing is time consuming and passive, not actually teaching cattle to respond to pressure in any consistent form). The results are cattle that flow (his trained cattle will not jam up and get confused like a lot of cattle that have been trained with dogs, with the consequence of an exaggerated stress related herd instinct. They will flow with confidence), readily manageable, with minimised labour. (Jock and 1 man can do 600 weaners in 4 hrs. This means that the cattle are not locked up so long, don't lose so much weight and the mustering camp can move on more quickly). The return on investment in training both staff and stock on handling and low stress is hard to measure. It is my strong opinion that the investment return far outweighs the highest institutional investor cash return hurdle and should be considered a necessity in large scale cattle operations.
- Tim McGavin, CEO Laguna Bay Pastoral Company
Brunette Downs is a 12305 sq km cattle station running anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000 head of cattle pending season. With this scale attention to detail in all aspects of the business have to be sought in order to maximise profitability and production. The area that has potential to lose the most value is in animal handling. This is why we invest in contracting Jock Mackay to handle our young stock at Brunette each year. Jock’s approach to me is one of guiding and educating an animal in how they naturally react in the paddock and uses control techniques that are swiftly adopted by the young stock and places them under no undue stress which leads to significant weight retention. Jock has been handling the weaners at Brunette now for 3 years and we have noticed the impact in mustering costs, sale weight retention, OHS reduction in stock related incidents through the yard and generally a much more enjoyable and educational process for staff. We recently put our stock staff under Jocks training and it was adopted extremely well with all employee’s coming back with a renewed vigour on how to approach their cattle handling and end up with a better result at the end of each day. This is particularly pleasing to see young people with such enthusiasm towards stock handling and Jock has been a great mentor for this. With many inexperienced employee’s coming into our industry and the pressure’s of making returns against capital invested any area where a greater margin can be sought is worth pursuing . I would recommend Jock in training staff to gain a better bottom line result for anyone’s business. Jock Has a common sense approach to training and handling of stock which is effective and efficient in real time and has added real value to my business.
- Michael Johnston, Manager Brunette Downs
I use Jock Mackay to handle weaners at Brunette Downs for many reasons. He takes great pride in ensuring his work is of value and that value is understood when he has completed the education of the weaners. He also likes to share his knowledge with all people willing to learn and help them understand why weaner education is important. He takes pride in his horsemanship and sets a good example of commitment to the welfare of all animals in his care, at all times. Having Jock around educating weaners, training horses and having our staff filter through his daily work programs is just so benefical in all aspects of station life and work. Having Jock at Brunette Downs during the cattle season sets the expectation of always working with a positive attitude when handling cattle and horses.
- Henry Burke, Northern Pastoral General Manager AACo
Whilst I was contract mustering for KD Rural at Brunette Downs, I mustered and processed the cattle that Jock Mackay had educated and worked with using his weaner education program. The weaners in the yards were calm but responsive to pressure. These cattle were consistent in their temperament and flowed through the yards in large numbers easily. Working these cattle assisted with the safety of my staff at all times, as the cattle were calm, and a pleasure to work.
- Sam Burke, KD Contractors Brunette Downs 2012
"Take control of your mob and stop under working them, make your cattle work for you" Too many times have I been around cattle that have been under handled, it's nothing more than frustrating having to work cattle that have been overly desensitised, and as a result are plain ignorant to try and work. You know the ones, cows that you have to keep pushing back into a mob, mobs that don't take a lead no matter how many different ways you try, cattle that stand there and don't move when your trying to move them in a yard, it's a nightmare. With johns techniques it's about taking control of your mob and putting pressure on them and getting a lead and a flow established. Take a lead means get a lead established and have them draw the rest of the mob out. How wide is a cattle pad? Cattle walk single file they have a leader that draws the mob out either to water or back to feed. John really challenged my way of working to start with but the results I am getting now is unreal. He made me work within how cattle already herd together not having me be the leader of the herd. I strongly urge anyone to give his techniques ago, it's so effective and so simple, there is no confusion just simple pressure and release, cattle take to it well and his techniques on weaners are unbelievable. I have never seen anyone have 500 weaners broken in and out of the yard, walking and feeding in the same day with such control.
- Megan Bayles, Stockperson Fort Constantine Station 2012
"It's efficient, effective and the results are second to none". In more recent years as stock camps are becoming younger and less experienced I have had trouble at times trying to get these types to understand how to work and handle cattle. But now with johns techniques I have been able to physically show them what understanding herd flow and movement means, especially when dealing with much bigger mobs. Everybody needs to be backing each other up and getting the cattle to respond to them and respect their presence. With Johns techniques I have completely changed my way of handling cattle either it been in big mobs to little mobs. The cattle respond well to his techniques and now I can not only have my mob working for me, my stock camp is more efficient and effective in how they place themselves around a mob when working cattle, even down to working cattle in the yards. I am meeting more of my demands with ample time up my sleeve and the cattle I am now turning over are producing results more efficiently and are a pleasure to work with.
- Doug Waddell, Head Stockman Fort Constantine Station Cloncurry 2012