Monday, June 10, 2013

Mandy and Brian - Aussie Farmers

Today we welcome a special guest from Australia. Mandy and Brian are cattle ranchers in New South Wales!

G’Day Mob,

Greetings from the Land Downunder. I have been greatly enjoying reading through these profiles on Faces of Agriculture and learning a little more about farming in the USA; and I thought I could lend an Aussie perspective.

My husband, Brian, and I own a 2,000 acre property in northern, inland New South Wales (NSW) where we run a cattle trading business. The country here is undulating woodland with plenty of rocks and spring-fed streams – hence the property name “Rocky Springs”.

Brian grew up on high country stations(ranch) in New Zealand and worked as a head-shepherd before coming to Australia. I spent my early years on a dairy farm in southern NSW and then on small acreage (14 acres) while at high school but I wasn’t a farmer. I went to university and studied geology and met Brian on a drill rig in the deserts of Western Australia.

We both harboured a dream of getting back to the land so after making some money from the mining boom of the early 1990’s, and after a few detours, we bought our first real farm in 2004. And hasn’t it been a learning curve.

2004 – 2010 were drought years in Australia so we learnt the hard way. We started with a steep, rough block with hopes of breeding Santa Gertrudis cattle but the drought and the hills shunted us towards the tougher Brahmans. Then we moved to Rocky Springs and in 2009 realised that breeding was not working for us. It was about this time that we happened upon a methodology developed by your very own Bud Williams, which taught us how to be profitable in any market. So now we are principally a trading operation (I still have a breeding herd of 2 Brahmans!) running anywhere from 200 to 900 cows depending on the season. With a bit of work we are confident in any climate, whether it be drought or flood.

Pasture in Drought
Bud Williams also developed Low Stress Stock Handling, which we employ on our farm. With Brian in the sale yards (sale barns) a lot of the time, I find myself often working our cattle alone and using LSS methods has given me a confidence I may not have otherwise had.

One of my most satisfying moments in the last few months was taking eighty unweaned angus steers (bought out of different sale yards), weaning them at Rocky Springs, working them through our yards and selling them a few weeks later as one mob. I loaded the steers onto the semi-trailer truck and the driver commented “Gee, you’ve done a good job with these, the buyer is going to love them”. The whole exercise made me proud of what we are doing – in this case taking unruly cattle, and being able to sell them as a quiet, well behaved mob a short time later.

We are not rolling in gold coins on the farm yet but we have a strong idea of what we want to achieve:

Make this farm profitable without outside income
Manage our cattle quietly and to the highest possible standards
Enhance the pasture quality and the environment
Employ from and contribute to the local community.
I blog at and the focus of my writing is not so much the technical aspects of what we do, but the soul, which is my passion for rural Australia.

Thank you for the opportunity of sharing my agricultural story with you.

Pasture in a good year
Thank you Mandy and Brian for giving us a taste of Australian Agriculture!!! Good luck to you and keep up the great work! Be sure to follow this ranching couple on their blog and learn more about Ag Downunder!

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