One fine operation
For a Central Highlands farmer life on the land and passing on the operation to his children are a bigger reward than the ribbons he has won for his wool. Roger Hanson reports
Sheep and cattle farmer Scott Reardon feels not only fortunate to be on his property but is also delighted his sons will continue the family tradition.
Mr Reardon and his two sons, Nicholas, 27, and Timothy, 25, run Rockford and adjoining property Jean Banks in the Central Highlands near Bothwell. Daughter Belinda, 33, is in Victoria shearing.
“I like farming and I am fortunate to be on this farm. I enjoy farming, it’s a way of life,” Mr Reardon said.
“Farming is good at the moment with solid stock prices.
“The boys will be the third generation here and it’s really pleasing they want to take it on.”
Across the properties they farm 5465ha with about 800h not running stock as it is set aside for timber.
They family run almost 17,000 Merinos producing about 100,000kg of wool, with the flock average about 18 microns. The Reardons sell their wool through Roberts at auction or by special orders.
Of the flock between 5000 to 5500 are wethers with about 7000 ewes lambing in October.
“It’s bit warmer this year and extremely dry, but we are expecting a good season of lambing,” Mr Reardon said.
“We recently scanned for the first time. We scanned 1600 four-year-old ewes, and found we had 3 per cent empty but an in-lamb percentage of 165,” he said.
Shearing normally starts in the last week of August and depending on schedules moves to the hoggets with the wethers shorn in late October.
The family also run 440 Hereford cattle that are in processor Greenham’s Never Ever program. This means the cattle are only fed grass and are not given antibiotics, growth hormones or genetically modified feed.
Rockford is on the banks of the Shannon River, but the Reardons do not irrigate.
When Tasmanian Country visited Timothy was in a block at Jean Banks clearing rocks and scrub as part of their pasture-improvement program.
“We are continually improving pasture and improving the farms. We have a lot of distinct seasonal differential from end of the farm to the other. It gets colder at Jean Banks than at Rockford,” Timothy said.
Nicholas was also busy on the property checking livestock and putting out supplement blocks.
“Keep the livestock healthy and content, they will make you money. We put out the supplement blocks for livestock gut health,” Nicholas said.
The Reardons have started breeding rams with bloodlines from Roseville Park, Bundaleer and Yarrawonga for their replacement stock.
They currently have 150 eightmonth-old rams for replacement and for sale
“We have continually been improving them and I will be offering a selection of the rams at Campbell Town sale in first week of December,” Mr Reardon said.
“The grand champion fleece we won at the Campbell Town Show a couple of months ago was won with a paddockrun ram, which I am really pleased with.”
Mr Reardon is a regular exhibitor in the show’s fleece competitions.
He also won the grand champion award in 2013 with a ewe fleece.
This year’s winning fleece measured 18.5 microns and beat entries from some of the state’ best-known wool operations.
“I’m really happy, there are always some really good fleeces there,” Mr Reardon said.
These are paddock-run sheep, they don’t get any special treatment SCOTT REARDON
Like for many other producers, Mr Reardon said the season when his winning fleece was grown had been particularly tough and he had been forced to get rid of some sheep.
“We got through relatively unscathed compared to some people,” he said.
“Because it was such an ordinary season, I did look after the young rams bit more that year and they did quite well,” Mr Reardon said.
He said the aim was productive sheep suited to the operation.
“We breed fine to medium types with probably about 6kg wool cut for grown sheep,” he said.
“Management is really important, but these are only paddock-run sheep, they don’t get any special treatment. It can be pretty harsh conditions.
“I was in New Zealand looking at their wool industry and I realised what master marketers they are, we could learn from them about branding Tasmanian wool.”
Building on a family tradition
SUCCESS: Scott Reardon is an award-winning wool producer who also runs cattle on his Central Highlands opnds operation across two properties.
FINE FLOCK: From top: eight-monthold rams on Scott Reardon’s farm; a dog ready for work; Hereford cattle; the wool averages 18 microns; Mr Reardon with the fleece that won at the Campbell Town Show this year.