The story of two Jacks

18 Dec, 2002 10:00 PM
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IT takes a lot to get a 400kg Gelbvieh bull to do as he's told.

That's when the WA College of Agriculture - Morawa, calls on its secret weapon, Jack.

Jack is a four-year-old donkey, specifically trained to lead yearling bulls.

Jack was trained by Judy Hebiton, chief steward of the trade cattle with the Royal Agriculture Society of WA and former studmaster and exhibitor of the Carramar Santa Gertrudis Stud in Three Springs.

Jack helps get the young bulls accustomed to being handled, making it easier for students when they start learning how to lead the animals themselves, and with donkeys renowned for their stubbornness, no amount of bullying from the much larger and heavier cattle can put Jack off course.

With a halter on the bull and a collar on the donkey, a short chain and swivel snap joining the two and the bull positioned against the fence, Jack is the one in charge, wherever he goes or whatever movement he makes the bulls are forced to follow.

Once the bulls become familiar with being handled, this in turn relaxes them and reduces the risks of accidents to their future handlers.

Combine Jack the donkey with 82-year-old Jack O'Dea, the Colleges only Freeman, and resident cattle expert, you have an impressive blend of talent.

With more than 20 years experience at the College, Mr O'Dea can be found, twice a day, seven days a week on farm, overseeing his much loved Gelbvieh cattle.

Its not unusual to find Jack on site at two o'clock in the morning helping the cows calve, tending any sick animals or feeding the lively bulls.

His vast knowledge, experience and practical touch have helped steer Morawa's cattle stud towards the successes it now enjoys.

Together, the two Jacks are helping capitalise on the colleges growing list of achievements and accolades within the cattle stud industry.

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