A drover is a person who moves a mob of sheep or cattle (or flock, herd etc of any domestic animal) on the hoof, usually along the road.

In more outback areas of Australia this may just be through any unfenced area that is not part of their home farm or station. Droving is not used to describe transporting animals in trucks or trains.

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The drover is often a professional who clocks up huge distances in a year, stringing along behind the animals, sometimes mustering them into temporary yards at night. He or she leads a life that is seen as
Today, many drovers have motorbikes, caravans (trailer homes), four-wheel drive utilities (pickup trucks) and portable electric fencing for yarding animals at night. Satellite links, mobile phones and TV are part of some drovers' furniture these days.

It's a far cry from a bedroll (rolled-up blankets slung from the saddle) and a stock horse.

The drover's dog
One thing never changes, the hard-working drover's dog. Drovers always seem to have a dog. To work like a drover's dog means to work extremely hard. The dog runs around behind the mob of sheep or cattle, barking and often nipping at the heels to keep them moving and in a bunch. When an animal breaks away, the dog will muster it and any who follow it back into the mob. Occasionally the dog is more noise than value, but mostly it is absolutely essential.
Many years ago drovers were said to be on the way out, supposedly being replaced by great road trains hauling hundreds of animals. The road trains have not replaced them and don't look likely to.

When Australian farmers drove their own stock during drought to pick up any feed that is available anywhere, they talk about being in "the long paddock" as distinct from the home paddock or the back paddock etc.

Related info:

A woman from Australia's Adelaide Hills is embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, following in the footsteps of the drovers. Elizabeth Murphy, from Oakbank, South Australia, is following the stock routes along the Murrumbidgee River in NSW, Australia.

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This page was updated on December 27, 2007