My cattle are running on a 90-hectare property along the Plenty River in the Derwent Valley. The property has been continuously cropped for many years prior to getting the opportunity to run cattle on it. Because funds to go in with wholesale pasture resowing, it was necessary to use a slower but cheaper method of encouraging pastures to grow. This was to introduce a grazing regime that focus' on the land and rest and recovery for the plants. Within 12 months I was seeing introduced grass species like rye grass that had bee sown over the years re-emerge. Cattle numbers fluctuated according to feed availability and the way the season was going.
I was raised on a family farm at Ouse and farmed my whole life. I now work as executive officer at Landcare Tasmania, a volunteer organization which is the peak body in Tasmania charged with looking after the landcare volunteers around the state. This change of tack is enabling me to continue with my passion for improving the way grow and produce our food.
Over the past three decades, I have watched a change in weather patterns, resulting in a change in emphasis on rainfall patterns with more rain falling at times of the year with little benefit. I knew changes to the way we farm were overdue. It became very clear that we needed to change the way managed our soils, whether cropping or grazing. I have chosen to focus on grazing management and demonstrate that it is possible to have a low input, healthy and profitable system that produces good quality beef and plenty of it.
Healthy soils cannot be overstretched and must be improved using as inputs that enhance the existing soil biota. When necessary, acceptable natural inputs include compost, microbiological products such as bacteria and insects to allow water to enter the soil more easily, and time. Good soil boosts production, and as a result, profitability.
I use low-stress livestock handling principals. I like to be able to perform all animal husbandry tasks on my own as much as possible. Minimizing stress improves the cattle’s welfare as well as meat flavor and tenderness.