Fam­ily’s love af­fair with low­line cat­tle

Ten­nents fo­cus on lo­cal pro­duce for CQ re­gion

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - Kirsty Mawer news@ru­ral­weekly.com

IT IS com­mon to hear peo­ple opt­ing for a seachange and Mackay and the Whit­sun­days would be a great place to do so.

But Mandy and Kell Ten­nent turned in their coastal lifestyle more than seven years ago for a more peace­ful and re­lax­ing tree-change... or so they thought.

While both Mandy and Kell’s fam­i­lies have cat­tle prop­er­ties, nei­ther had an ini­tial in­ter­est in fol­low­ing in their foot­steps.

Kell, who was a marine me­chanic, and Mandy, a fish­eries in­spec­tor, started their bovine ad­ven­ture with just four cows on their Emu Park prop­erty and when they in­creased their herd to 12, the 10 hectares just wasn’t big enough.

The cou­ple looked to where Kell had been raised in Finch Hat­ton and they dis­cov­ered Cloud­break, an 87-hectare for­mer dairy at Cred­i­ton, near Eun­gella, that was per­fect for their new home.

It would take two more years be­fore the Ten­nents made the fi­nal move, trav­el­ling be­tween the two prop­er­ties in the mean­time.

Dur­ing that chal­leng­ing time, Mandy and Kell would ex­tend their fam­ily, with two daugh­ters born since they bought the farm.

The his­tory of the prop­erty was in­ter­est­ing to the Ten­nents who pur­chased the acreage from de­scen­dants of the orig­i­nal fam­ily, who ob­tained the land in the 1930s bal­lots.

But the true draw­card of the prop­erty was the high rain­fall and lush kikuyu and clover pas­tures that would prove to be ideal feed for their beloved low­line cat­tle.

But the move to the Cred­i­ton prop­erty has not been without a good deal of hard work.

The Ten­nents said weed man­age­ment on their prop­erty had been vi­tal, with a con­stant need to keep lan­tana and to­bacco bush un­der con­trol.

Mandy and Kell have made a con­scious de­ci­sion to make Cloud­break as sus­tain­able and eco-friendly as pos­si­ble by us­ing mod­ern farm prac­tices, ad­vo­cat­ing strongly for farm biose­cu­rity and par­tic­i­pat­ing in joint ven­tures with Mackay Re­gional Coun­cil, Reef Catch­ments and Land for Wildlife.

While the orig­i­nal con­cept for Cloud­break was to breed high qual­ity stud cat­tle to sell to lo­cal farm­ers and for ex­port, a se­condary busi­ness

model has emerged with the pro­duc­tion of Eun­gella Beef.

And the lo­cally pro­duced, free-range, grass-fed beef has cer­tainly been pop­u­lar with those who are keen to know their pro­duce is lo­cal and has low food miles.

Mandy said prove­nance was im­por­tant to lo­cals.

“We can guar­an­tee this, as our low­line cat­tle and bulls are all reg­is­tered with the Low­line As­so­ci­a­tion,” she said.

“Through tail-hair DNA test­ing, the meat they pro­duce is there­fore trace­able, as­sur­ing our cus­tomers the his­tory of our Eun­gella Beef, and beef qual­ity, se­cu­rity and safety.”

This forms part of their fo­cus of build­ing strong re­la­tion­ships, which is im­por­tant to the Ten­nents.

“We’re keen to main­tain great work­ing re­la­tion­ships with our cus­tomers and sup­pli­ers, such as the lo­cal Kut­tabul butcher who pre­pares whole side packs, which are then de­liv­ered to cus­tomers around the Mackay dis­trict,” Mandy said.

“We of­fer meat by the kilo at the Greater Whit­sun­day Farm­ers Mar­kets and the lo­cal Eun­gella Gen­eral Store.”

The cou­ple has read­ily em­braced the lo­cal in­ter­est in their en­ter­prise and teamed up with Hello World to of­fer farm tours and host the oc­ca­sional farm open day to the gen­eral pub­lic.

“Each event is thought­fully planned to show­case our beef prod­uct and live cat­tle,” she said.

“The visi­tors get a glimpse of our ev­ery­day life of fresh moun­tain air, clean wa­ter creeks and peace and quiet.”

But it’s not all scones with jam and cream, gen­tle moo­ing from their cows and cool tem­per­a­tures for the Ten­nents.

With Kell work­ing away at a lo­cal mine, Mandy is busy with their young daugh­ters, man­ag­ing the house and prop­erty along with their 100-strong herd, which re­quires feed­ing, mov­ing and oc­ca­sion­ally nur­tur­ing dur­ing calv­ing sea­son.

There is also the plan­ning for the fu­ture growth of Cloud­break and 2018 looks to be an­other busy year for the fam­ily.

“Along with con­tin­u­ing to sup­port the Greater Whit­sun­day Farm­ers Mar­kets, we will at­tend the new Homegrown and Hand­made Mar­kets in Fe­bru­ary at the Finch Hat­ton Show­grounds,” Mandy said.

“We will also be mak­ing an ap­pear­ance at Beef Aus­tralia 2018 held in Rock­hamp­ton, to show­case low­lines with the as­sis­tance of Mackay Chris­tian Col­lege’s agri­cul­tural stu­dents.

“And we will look to un­der­take a study in the field of ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion as a fu­ture ven­ture.”

When asked if a B&B was on the hori­zon for the fam­ily, Mandy said it was a com­mon ques­tion but that it wasn’t in their plans.

“We are pas­sion­ate about fur­ther­ing the lo­cal food cause, and pro­vid­ing lo­cal peo­ple with lo­cal pro­duce,” she said.

“And ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about where their food comes from, and how it is treated.”

❝ We are pas­sion­ate about fur­ther­ing the lo­cal cause and pro­vid­ing lo­cal peo­ple with lo­cal pro­duce. — Mandy Ten­nant

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

FAM­ILY AF­FAIR: Mandy and Kell Ten­nent with their daugh­ters Imo­gen and Cas­sidy and cow Lucy.

One of the many beloved low­lines on the Ten­nents’ prop­erty at Cred­i­ton.

Imo­gen and Cas­sidy Ten­nent with a calf.

A group tour­ing the Ten­nents’ farm.

Kell hand-feed­ing his cows.

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