Land health’s top of pri­or­ity list

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS -

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.”

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