The Kiwis have just discovered one of those immutable truths of nature: sheepdogs stress sheep. New Zealand supermarket chain for its stores to discontinue the use of sheepdogs in tending their flocks, citing concerns for the well-being of the sheep:
A spokesperson for the store said: “We don’t have a problem with sheepdogs, but we need to make sure they treat the sheep in a considerate manner, so they don’t stress the sheep out.
Where do I even begin with this story…
First, I guess I agree with the discovery behind this pronouncement. Sheepdogs do frighten/stress/startle sheep. As do birds, people, trees, clouds, heat, cold, other sheep, and the sheep’s own shadow. Point being, sheep aren’t necessarily known for their courage and constancy.
The trend of retail establishments forcing farm families into production systems that are not in their own best interests is both troubling and growing. From retailers forcing dairies to abandon proven production-enhancing technologies like rBST in the dairy industry to the Prop 2 ballot initiative in California, a small group of extremely vocal consumers and their radical activist counterparts are increasingly succeeding in their efforts to micromanage food production to their own whims. This, by the way, is a significant driver of food costs in this country.
So, my sheep herding friends, keep a close eye on your trusty sidekick; he may be helping you watch your flock today, and may be in the activists’ crosshairs tomorrow.