From tim­ber to a beef cat­tle en­ter­prise in CQ

Build­ing Barfield from the ground up

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

❝ Build­ing cat­tle num­bers and de­vel­op­ing our prop­er­ties was part of our strat­egy for ex­pan­sion.

ROBERT and Me­li­nee Leather started out cut­ting tim­ber on a prop­erty near Mt Perry to make ends meet.

Twenty nine years later they now own Barfield Sta­tion, a his­tor­i­cal prop­erty in the Banana re­gion.

Dur­ing the Beef Aus­tralia 2018 West­pac Prop­erty Tours pro­gram, those in­ter­ested in beef cat­tle farm­ing will be able to take a first-hand look at Barfield Sta­tion and how the Leathers run their busi­ness.

Their prop­erty, Four Mile, at Mt Perry was bought in part­ner­ship with Robert’s par­ents in 1988 and was the first of many step­ping stones the Leathers used to build up the busi­ness they run to­day.

They went on to buy sev­eral smaller prop­er­ties and re­sell them be­fore in­vest­ing in Barfield, which is now a cer­ti­fied or­ganic, PCAS, EU and Graz­ing BMP prop­erty.

Me­li­nee and Robert be­lieve hav­ing a solid busi­ness plan and work­ing hard was the key to any suc­cess­ful busi­ness.

“We cut sleep­ers for Queens­land Rail for years. For a long time ev­ery­thing we made from cat­tle was in­vested back into the prop­erty,” Mrs Leather said.

“Build­ing cat­tle num­bers and de­vel­op­ing our prop­er­ties was part of our strat­egy for ex­pan­sion.”

The Leathers now use a par­al­lel pro­duc­tion sys­tem to run their busi­ness. The Four Mile non-or­ganic prop­erty runs 1000 breed­ers and the prog­eny are trans­ported to Barfield Sta­tion to be fin­ished for the EU and PCAS mar­kets.

“All of the cat­tle on Barfield are treated as or­ganic, but the ones that are born on Four Mile (non-or­ganic) and brought to Barfield Sta­tion will never in their life­time be con­sid­ered ‘or­ganic’,” Mrs Leather said.

At Barfield Sta­tion, they run a brah­man-based herd with 500 or­ganic breed­ers.

The Leathers are con­stantly look­ing for new ways to im­prove the qual­ity of their herd. Cur­rently, they are ex­pand­ing their herd to in­clude some bel­mont red, li­mousin, senepol and bran­gus blood­lines to lift the mar­bling in their meat.

Since buy­ing Barfield Sta­tion the Leathers have planted 600 acres of leu­caena to strengthen the pro­duc­tion sys­tem and make the prop­erty more re­silient through dry times.

Barfield will have 10,000 acres of leu­caena es­tab­lished over the next 10 years. Other

— Me­li­nee Leather

ar­eas of the prop­erty have been seeded with legumes and grasses to im­prove feed qual­ity and ground cover.

While the Leathers now run a suc­cess­ful beef cat­tle en­ter­prise at Barfield Sta­tion, they have main­tained their sus­tain­able tim­ber har­vest­ing busi­ness and breed­ing op­er­a­tion at Four Mile, where their son Adam and wife Chloe live with their two chil­dren, Ava and Jaxon.

“Our vi­sion is to cre­ate a sus­tain­able busi­ness by fo­cus­ing on and car­ing for our an­i­mals, land and fam­ily mem­bers,” Mrs Leather said.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

IN­SIGHT: Dur­ing the Beef Aus­tralia 2018 West­pac Prop­erty Tours pro­gram, those in­ter­ested in beef cat­tle farm­ing will be able to take a first-hand look at Barfield Sta­tion and how the Leathers run their busi­ness.

HARD YAKKA: Robert and Me­li­nee Leather started out cut­ting tim­ber on a prop­erty near Mt Perry to make ends meet.

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