Pig­gotts talk farm safety and suc­ces­sion on fam­ily sta­tion

Farm­ing fam­ily keeps im­prov­ing com­mer­cial and stud op­er­a­tion

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Front Page - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­dra.glover@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

AN EMO­TIONAL at­tach­ment to the land is what drives the Pig­gott fam­ily to keep im­prov­ing Christ­mas Creek Cat­tle Com­pany.

Based 40km from Rolle­ston on the Carnar­von high­way, Christ­mas Creek is run by Bradley and Ker­ryn Pig­gott.

“My hus­band has been farm­ing his whole life and I joined when I mar­ried Bradley,” Mrs Pig­gott said.

“Bradley has lived in the Carnar­von Ranges since he was three months old.

“He’s lived in the dis­trict all his life, and we’ve lived at Christ­mas Creek since 1986.”


CHRIST­MAS Creek Cat­tle Com­pany started off as a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion be­fore in­clud­ing a stud drought­mas­ter op­er­a­tion in 1987.

They run 240 head of stud cat­tle and 1250 com­mer­cial cows on their 25,000ha prop­erty.

Mrs Pig­gott said she liked drought­mas­ters for their ver­sa­til­ity.

“Their all-round ca­pa­bil­i­ties with their fer­til­ity, their abil­ity to mother a calf, their abil­ity to with­stand harsh con­di­tions and still pro­duce good qual­ity beef.

“They do well in all sea­sons and we’re get­ting good feed­back with our MSA.”

“We stopped HGP-ing a bit over two years ago.

“We stopped that be­cause we’re in the process of be­ing com­ing EU ac­cred­ited and for ac­cess­ing the Teys Grass­lands mar­ket.”

Mrs Pig­gott said they’d had an aver­age sea­son.

“We’re not droughted,” she said. “We’re lucky be­cause we’re very close to some ar­eas that are.

“We’ve had an aver­age sea­son, just a bit be­low our aver­age an­nual rain­fall.

“We’ve had some early storms in Oc­to­ber and we had a lit­tle bit of win­ter rain.”


THE team at Christ­mas Creek re­cently won two Queens­land WorkSafe awards in­clud­ing the award for best so­lu­tion to an iden­ti­fied work health and safety is­sue, and best demon­strated lead­er­ship in work health and safety award.

Christ­mas Creek was nom­i­nated for the award by the Cen­tral High­lands Re­gional Re­sources Use Plan­ning Co­op­er­a­tive Lim­ited (CHRRUP).

“We did their Safe Sta­tion pro­gram and im­ple­mented a Work Safe health and safety pro­gram with our busi­ness,” Mrs Pig­gott said.

“While we were do­ing that we iden­ti­fied one of the big­gest risks to our busi­ness was cross­ing the Carnar­von high­way.

“It dis­sects our prop­erty in half. The ma­jor­ity of our breed­ers are run on the western side of the high­way.

“When they’re weaned they have to cross the high­way; we also need to cross it to ac­cess our yards.”

The Pig­gotts came up with the idea to move their cat­tle through the cul­verts un­der the high­way.

“Many years ago, when we were on hol­i­days in New Zea­land, we saw dairy cows go­ing un­der­neath the road through the cul­verts,” Mrs Pig­gott said.

“The high­way was up­graded in 1997 so the vol­umes of traf­fic have in­creased.

“It wasn’t an is­sue un­til they changed the speed lim­ited to 110km and the traf­fic in­creased.

“And we’re in a high crash zone.”

Mrs Pig­gott said they had to ap­ply to the De­part­ment of Trans­port for a road cor­ri­dor per­mit and also ap­ply with the Cen­tral High­lands Re­gional Coun­cil.

“That (the road cor­ri­dor per­mit) had a few guide­lines we had to ad­here to with the way the fences were fixed to the cul­vert. One of those was also mak­ing sure our pub­lic li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance had to be $20 mil­lion.

“It’s also a stock route so it has to meet those guide­lines for the safe traf­fic of trav­el­ling stock. There had to be spe­cific gates in place.

“That was the hard bit, build­ing the fence was easy!”

Mrs Pig­gott said us­ing the cul­verts to move their stock had in­creased ef­fi­ciency.

“What might have taken three or four peo­ple can now be done by one per­son and two dogs, and the risk is min­i­mal,” she said.

“It was some­thing re­ally sim­ple that has made a big dif­fer­ence. We didn’t process it as a risk to our busi­ness un­til we had a for­mal meet­ing and a think about it with Work Safe.”

The Work Safe awards in­cluded all in­dus­tries and Mrs Pig­gott said she was proud to take out the awards.

“We were a lit­tle bit sur­prised due to the huge com­pe­ti­tion but also re­ally proud. Not just for us but proud for ag as a whole,” she said.

“Agri­cul­ture gets a re­ally bad rap on safety. We have the most deaths in agri­cul­ture over ev­ery other in­dus­try.

“It was across all in­dus­try. I think we were the only farm­ers in the room.”


MR AND Mrs Pig­gott have three chil­dren Jack Pig­gott 28, Chloe Hines 25, and So­phie Pig­gott 21.

Chloe and her hus­band Clay Hines live on the prop­erty next door, Fairhaven, which is part of the Christ­mas Creek ag­gre­ga­tion.

Mrs Pig­got said her fam­ily was in the process of cre­at­ing a suc­ces­sion plan, and were in the third year of a 10 year plan.

“We have had four for­mal meet­ings now and each time we have home­work to go away and come back with,” she said.

“I love my chil­dren and I know my chil­dren love me, but it’s hard say­ing what you have to say to some­one with­out feel­ing like you’re step­ping on their toes or hurt­ing any­one’s feel­ings.

“Then your chil­dren marry some­body and that adds an­other layer to it. There are so many lay­ers to be­ing a fam­ily busi­ness in agri­cul­ture.”

Mrs Pig­gott said suc­ces­sion plan­ning was harder for peo­ple who were born on the land.

“I wasn’t born to the land and, un­less you’re born with the dirt in your hands, I don’t think you un­der­stand the emo­tional at­tach­ment to it,” she said.

“For my hus­band to give up his life – his iden­tity is his Akubra on his head and his cat­tle.”

Mrs Pig­gott said their fam­ily was still work­ing on their plan, but they had steps in place.

“Chloe and I went away and did a busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion course. We wanted to see if we could sup­port our re­tire­ment,” she said.

“We looked pretty deeply into our busi­ness and how we could im­prove. There was def­i­nitely enough in our busi­ness for suc­ces­sion to be pos­si­ble.

“I would like to be com­fort­able, but I would go with­out to see our busi­ness con­tinue for­ward.”


CHRIST­MAS Creek com­bines old and new tra­di­tions when mus­ter­ing cat­tle.

They use work­ing dogs as well as a drone.

“We per­son­ally have six work­ing dogs and Bradley works them in teams of two,” Mrs Pig­gott said.

“We work a mix of bor­der col­lie and kelpies.

“Our place is rough and it’s big, so we have a drone.

“We put a drone up and have a look where the cat­tle are. Then we make a plan and each per­son rides off with their two dogs.

“Our coun­try is mostly too rough to muster with quads.

“We do use quads with our briga­low coun­try.”

Mrs Pig­gott said she still strug­gled with us­ing the drone, but her kids had the hang of it.


SAFETY LEAD­ERS: Bradley and Ker­ryn Pig­gott with Shane We­bcke re­ceiv­ing their WorkSafe award.


Cat­tle be­ing mus­tered to­wards the cul­verts un­der the Carnar­von High­way at Christ­mas Creek.

FARM SAFE: It is part of Christ­mas Creek’s safety pol­icy to walk the horses through the cul­verts.

Drought­mas­ters at Christ­mas Creek.

So­phie and Bradley Pig­gott cool off with the horses.

Neil Robin­son on the tail, mus­ter­ing cat­tle at Christ­mas Creek.

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