A DUBBO accountant believes he may have found the answer to stop wild dogs attacking sheep using a chemical sourced from England which is a taste deterrent similar to that used in products to stop nail biting.
John Shepherd attended the Surat Predator Control Day yesterday armed with the product he has named, Protectum.
The chemical, which has been around since the 1960s, has no smell but an awful taste which Mr Shepherd believes once tried by a wild dog will deter them from attempting to attack again.
Producers would need to apply a 30ml dose of the chemical onto their sheep twice a year, during shearing and crutching, which sits on the tip of the wool and has no impact on the wool or meat quality.
While Protectum isn’t a commercial product yet, Mr Shepherd has begun trialling the product on properties at Cunnamulla and Dubbo with success.
He said after applying the product to 100 sheep on a property at Dubbo he saw the affect it had on working dogs.
“(The farmer’s) dog is a biter and as we were pushing the sheep out he went to bite and backed off straight away,” he said.
The chemical, which Mr Shepherd declined to name due to risk of stealing his idea, has been used in products such as detergent, washing powder and household items which he said if children accidentally consumed they would spit out straight away due to the taste.
It is also used in England in the horse industry and is applied to poly pipe to stop them from chewing it.
Mr Shepherd thought of the idea in May after noticing the rising wild dog problem through some of his agriculture clients.
While he grew up on a property himself, he left the farm and began studying accountancy after the wool boom.
The concept behind the product came from the Pavlov theory of ‘dogs salivating’ when Ivan Pavlov rang a bell as they thought they were being fed, Mr Shepherd said.
“I though if you could reverse that technology meaning that every time a dog bites a sheep it gets a mouthful of wool, they will learn that it’s a disgusting taste and so I did research to find a chemical,” he said.
He said if there was a way to keep dingoes alive, they could be used to kill other pests rather than sheep.
“The ultimate would be if we could have the sheep industry and dingoes living harmoniously, meaning the dingoes can go and eat the wildlife, and the kangaroos and the cats and foxes can be controlled by dingoes,” he said.
“The idea is train the dog that they can’t eat sheep.”
Mr Shepherd estimates a single dosage would cost about 30 cents and he is currently seeking interest from anybody in the sheep industry interested in trialling the product.
“We all know accountants are boring people so I was sitting there with a glass of red and I thought, well we better fix this problem,” he said.
“I’m not a big company, I don’t want to sell something that doesn’t work.”
For more information contact Mr Shepherd via firstname.lastname@example.org