From timber to a beef cattle enterprise in CQ
Building Barfield from the ground up
❝ 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.
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.