A farm busi­ness planned over a beer

Dis­cus­sions in Ger­many the start for cou­ple’s farm

South Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - Lyndal Read­ing news@ru­ral­weekly.com

WHILE sip­ping beer in a Bavar­ian beer gar­den in Mu­nich, Anne Marie and Daniel Bar­row hatched a plan for their fu­ture farm in Aus­tralia.

For 10 years as they sipped, they dis­cussed, ar­gued and came up with a vi­sion of what they would farm and where.

Then they put the plan into ac­tion.

The Bar­rows will hold their first au­tumn bull sale for their stud Mer­lewood Angus on-prop­erty at Mir­boo North on Fri­day, March 24 at 11.30am.

The bulls will be avail­able for in­spec­tion from 8am.

Anne Marie, who was orig­i­nally from near Glas­gow in Scot­land, met Daniel, who was orig­i­nally from be­tween Roma and Dalby in Queens­land, while work­ing in Mu­nich, Ger­many, in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

They planned to buy a farm in Aus­tralia, and South Gipp­s­land ticked all the boxes.

“It has a per­ma­nent wa­ter sup­ply, is on the edge of town and is big enough to es­tab­lish a stud on,” David said.

They run about 30 bulls, 220 breeding cows, 180 wean­ers and about 50 re­place­ment fe­males on 273ha at the edge of town.

Anne Marie said 10 years ago most of the cat­tle in South Gipp­s­land were here­ford, but be­ing from Scot­land she was quite par­tial to angus.

“Angus is mostly what we ate in Europe,” Anne Marie said.

“We did the re­search to make sure there was a mar­ket for it.

“You can see what Angus Aus­tralia does with the brand and it’s re­ally tak­ing off.”

Anne Marie said a farmer told them that “what you do in life has to make you smile”.

“When I look out and see a paddock of angus, that makes me smile.”

The cou­ple started the stud with 20 cows from a dis­per­sal nearby, then be­gan an em­bryo trans­fer pro­gram with ge­net­ics from Alpine Angus and The Grange, and also pur­chased fe­males from Law­sons and Te Ma­nia.

“In later years em­bryos were flushed from them,” Anne Marie said. “We’ve been flush­ing em­bryos from the lead­ing cows for the past three years.

“We also send em­bryos to Calf Corp near Holbrook then they re­turn the calves to us.”

Anne Marie said it was so dry in Mir­boo North last year, there was lit­tle feed and they did not have enough donor cows.

“We get the calves back in time to en­ter the wean­ing pro­gram and it’s part of our five-year busi­ness plan to have those an­i­mals for sale at the au­tumn bull sale in 2019.”

They used bulls from Ire­lands, Te Ma­nia and Alpine Angus for their ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion pro­grams.

“We used mat­ing pre­dic­tors and con­cen­trated on fer­til­ity, then frame size, then car­case to build mus­cle,” Daniel said.

“In the past few years we have used more NZ ge­net­ics.”

They keep a close eye on es­ti­mated breeding fig­ures as a tool to help them make de­ci­sions.

Daniel said the Mer­lewood bulls were bred for South Gipp­s­land con­di­tions.

“The pad­docks are smaller and the win­ter is harsh so we frame the cat­tle down and make sure they’re bet­ter at feed con­ver­sion,” he said.

“They’re a mod­er­ate framed an­i­mal that has a frame for com­mer­cial farm­ers, an easy-do­ing an­i­mal that suits the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Anne Marie said some peo­ple mov­ing from here­ford to angus fo­cused on com­pact “wom­bat-type” bulls.

“But we need some­thing for the com­mer­cial guys to hang the meat off.”

Daniel said they were aim­ing for the 18-month-old bulls to weigh about 680kg and be ready to work on auc­tion day.

He said the ad­van­tage of Gipp­s­land was cat­tle could be fin­ished on pas­ture and there was in­creas­ing de­mand for grass-fed beef.

“Ini­tially we thought we could sup­ply branded beef into spe­cific mar­kets, but then we thought we would con­cen­trate on breeding in­stead,” Daniel said.

Anne Marie said they still might ven­ture into branded beef.

“We might have a co-op­er­a­tive and work with other farm­ers to turn them off.”

The cou­ple vis­ited their clients re­cently to see the per­for­mance of the prog­eny and get some feed­back.

Anne Marie said clients called to let them know how the cat­tle were do­ing.

“They talk a lot about tem­per­a­ment – the calves are quiet,” she said.

“They are just eat­ing and con­vert­ing the feed rather than run­ning around and shak­ing it all off.”

Tem­per­a­ment is the num­ber one trait they se­lect for.

“There is no point in hav­ing an an­i­mal that ticks all the other boxes if they do not have the tem­per­a­ment,” Anne Marie said.

Anne Marie said she be­came a “DPI (Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries) junkie” to learn every­thing she could about farm­ing.

“I did BeefCheque, Breed­ers for Profit, farm plan­ning, all those cour­ses, and we sur­rounded our­selves with ex­pert con­sul­tants,” she said. “The pre­vi­ous owner of the prop­erty helped too.”

Anne Marie said start­ing on a small scale, with only 20 cows, helped to get their pro­ce­dures in place.

PHOTO: ANDY ROGERS

IN FO­CUS: Daniel and Anne Marie Bar­row, of Mer­lewood Angus in Mir­boo North, are hold­ing their first au­tumn bull sale this year.

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