Event to highlight ag innovation in Gundy
AN EVENT designed to celebrate innovation, produce and agriculture in the Goondiwindi region will be held next month.
More than 20 farmers across horticulture, grains and livestock industries are set to open their gates to welcome guests.
Gooralie Free Range Pork will be one of many local producers highlighted during Discover Farming.
Owners Mark and Charisse Ladner have transformed their traditional farming operation over 15 years to build a free-range piggery to produce pork in a natural, outdoor environment.
Mark said in 1999 they first identified that people were paying more attention to the paddock to plate concept.
“People were becoming more aware of traceability and where their food came from,” he said.
They produce 40 tonnes of pork a week, sold to butchers throughout Australia as well as an exported product.
Mark and Charisse both grew up on the land in the Goondiwindi region.
Mark returned to the family property in 1986, 10 years later marrying Charisse, and took over the property from his parents.
“We started looking at pork and free-range systems,” Mark said. “We saw a lot of what people were doing wrong in regards to inconsistency of product, having pigs that were too fat and inability to keep the supply consistent.
“We wanted to make sure we could do what we said we would.”
This involved the couple developing a system so they would have enough sows initially to be able to maintain the product and build a label.
“It’s also about quality assurance, people know what they are getting is the real deal.”
Gooralie’s pork is in accordance with Australian Pork Limited’s APIQ free range certification and RSPCA guidelines.
Sustainability is a key driver
People know what they are getting is the real deal.
— Mark Ladner
to the success of the Ladner’s business.
“We are grain growers as well; we want to keep the system and our footprint as small as possible,” Mark said.
“All our water comes from the Great Artesian Basin; it is gravity fed from a turkey’s nest to our pigs or cattle.
“All our straw is composted and broken down and spread onto cultivation and grazing country.
“We use this as our fertiliser for next year’s crop.
“The piggery is on solar and we are in the process of making our whole farm totally off grid and solar dependant.”
There are 20 odd staff on the property including managers and section heads of the business.
“The staff are obviously an integral part of the business and we are very proud of our team and what they contribute to achieve the finished product,” Mark said.
Mark said he enjoyed watching the pigs in their natural environment, including playing, sleeping and eating.
“I enjoy seeing how the business is all inter-related,” he said.
“Gravity and solar are what we use.
“I get a real buzz out of the product we produce and seeing it expand.”
Mark said the sows were on a breeding program and all data was collected and monitored.
“We’re looking at more technology to be able to monitor the amount of feed in our feeders,” he said.
“All our sows are tagged and artificially inseminated.
“There’s huge gains to be made in the nutritional side of feeding too.”
Animal welfare is at the forefront of their minds, using antibiotics to treat animals, if needed under vet direction.
Mark and Charisse said they jumped at the chance to be involved in the Discover Farming event, as they are proud of their paddock to plate story and keen to share it.
“It’s such a great initiative to shine a light on Gundy and the region,” they said.
“There will be a tour here on May 19.
“We will be doing a drive around and showing people our system and our layout.
“They will also get to try our pork.”
HAPPY AS: Gooralie Free-Range Pork, near Goondiwindi, produces 40 tonne a week.