Event to high­light ag in­no­va­tion in Gundy

The Western Star - - RU­RAL WEEKLY - Candyce.braithwait­[email protected] CANDYCE BRAITHWAIT­E

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.

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