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

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

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.

Pic­tures: MATHEW FAR­RELL

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.

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