Free Range Farming
Our idea of Free Range is animals in the open, feet on the ground, eating grass and sleeping under trees. Essentially an animal free to do as it pleases and display its natural behaviours.
Occupying over 3000 acres, our farm is located 90km north of Tamworth in the North West of New South Wales. Surrounding the district and our family farm are the Nandewar mountain ranges. It is perfect country for raising free range produce, with an average rainfall over 1000mm, and no large scale cropping programs in our area.
The animals on our farm are out in the open as nature intended. To keep them healthy we use as many natural preventative measures as we can. By regularly moving our livestock to fresh new paddocks we minimise the transfer and cycle of worms and parasites. The animals are given preventative treatments at certain times of the year, or as the seasons dictate. This is no different to treating your pet at home...except we have more of them! All animals are hormone free and we have local vets on call to treat sick animals.
We believe because our animals are less stressed our product tastes better. Or, as we say, Happiness Tastes Better!
Our farm is managed using a Whole Farm system. Holistic farm management looks at the farm as a whole, works with natural processes and looks to ‘mimic’ nature. Using this system we rest paddocks and allow them to rejuvenate and seed for the following seasons. Ground cover, soil health and carbon storage are all major benefits of this system as is the reduction of erosion areas on our farm.
Stocking rate is now thought of as carrying capacity and we now carry less numbers on average but can carry more stock through the harder times, without negative impacts on our ecosystems.
Since purchasing our farm 'Blue Hills' in 1983 our family has subdivided all the larger areas, we have put water troughs in nearly all paddocks, fenced off water courses and erosion areas or those prone to erosion, and are following plans to facilitate regeneration. We have planted, and continue to plant, trees each year as habitats for bird and wildlife and protection for our stock, and we promote native grasses and vegetation throughout the property.
Soil health is paramount and the use of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are restricted; these are only used when considered within our decision making frame work.
On Farm Initiatives
The cornerstone of our farming philosophy is soil health. We believe the soil must first bhealthy to be able to produce quality pastures, rich in minerals, which allow our stock to grow to their full potential naturally. With this philosophy in mind, we have adopted the following initiatives:
- introduced legumes in to our native pastures to increase soil quality;
- elected to graze at a higher stock density for a shorter period to realise a natural fertilisation by using the animals; this along with the soil disturbance helps promote root activity, followed by long periods of rest to encourage grass growth;
- fenced off regeneration areas in steep gullies and land susceptible to erosion, to minimise animal impact on these already fragile environments;
- maintained a greater grass coverage at all times, lessening the likelihood of erosion from weather and stock and slowing the water path of rain during wet periods.
- divided the original number of paddocks and now have triple the number, allowing us to graze our stock on high paddock rotations and rest our land longer; helping to break the cycle of worms and parasites;
- continued to plant native trees that double as stock protection and nature corridors for birds and wildlife;
- protected our water courses, planted trees and introduced native water grasses to hold water on our property longer and naturally increase the water table; and
- established water troughs in dam areas to reduce damage to the dam itself; encouraging birdlife and native animals to water at these sources.