Land health’s top of priority list
ENVIRONMENT is king.
That’s Grant Burnham’s motto, in the operation of his soon-to-be organic certified grazing property.
“We are grass producers first, then beef producers,” he said.
Maintaining ground cover and diversity in perennial grasses is paramount to the operation.
This is helped by cell rotation of cattle, where big mobs of between 500 and 1000 cattle are grazed on blocks of about 50ha for a maximum of five days.
“About 95% of our country is rested at any one time,” Mr Burnham said.
“We want our cattle to eat their dessert first.
“The tip of the grass, the green bit, that’s like chocolate and ice-cream for them.
“It gets them nice and fat.
“We give preference to the younger breeders and finishing cattle.
“But by the end of winter, most mobs are down to eating their broccoli and cabbage, the bottom part of the grass.”
By rotating cattle regularly, Mr Burnham also keeps on top of one of the biggest costs to organic farmers – parasites and worms.
As a parasite needs a host animal on a particular piece of land to finish its 21-day life cycle, moving the animal after only five days will break the cycle and the parasite will die.
Resilience is also a trait Mr Burnham specifically selects when he breeds his brangus cattle.
“Fertility, early maturity and adaptability are the three things we focus on,” he said.
“But when we do have to make tough decisions, we will destock our cattle, rather than overgrazing the land,” he said.
“Sunlight and rainfall are the two freebies we get and we want to be able to make the most of them in good conditions.
“If the land is in good condition, grass will be ready to rejuvenate when you get it.
“If it is less than ideal condition and overgrazed, we lose out.”