The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
The John Ralph Essay Competition is held annually by the Australian Farm Institute in recognition of their founding chairmen and aims to foster conversations around agricultural policy issues. “Given the announcement of the John Ralph Essay winner is the key event in Ag Week in Canberra it is a great platform to put forward your perspective,” Greg says. “The policy focus, the need to present well thought-out and supported ideas, the calibre of entrants and the wide reach of the reading audiences makes the John Ralph Essay competition a focal point for discussions in Australian agriculture.”
In his essay, titled The Future of Animal Agriculture, Greg acknowledges the rise of vegan and vegetarian diets and concedes replacing animals on the plate with other sources of nutrition is possible; but he asks how society would cope replacing the other complex roles animals fulfil.
“Animals do not exist in our society simply because they taste good. Primarily animals have become an integral key to the success of human society as animals convert food we cannot eat, into food we can….. The abilities of these animals to eat the widest range of feedstuffs and turn it into eggs and meat have made these animals indispensable. Likewise, ruminants that can convert inedible grass, brush and other high fibre feedstuffs to meat and milk have become a dominant species utilised in both intensive and extensive production systems.”
Greg argues that the production of animal-free meat products involves by-products, which are typically fed to animals.
“Without animal agriculture to convert these by-products and unwanted end-products it becomes a difficult question for society as to how these current feedstuffs would be used in a hypothetical animal free future for agriculture.”
In the complex world in which we find ourselves Greg believes animal agriculture will continue to have a fundamental role in society but needs to find a way for real engagement with its consumers and customers. “Engaging with the community and sharing what we do in animal agriculture and why we do it is a passion for me,” he says. “The topic of the essay this year was a great opportunity to communication my thoughts on the future of what we do.”
Greg is highly respected by Young Farming Champions; most of whom have passed through his workshops, tackled his difficult questions and come to appreciate his support and honesty. It may interest them, then, to hear Greg’s personal motivation for entering the John Ralph Essay Competition:
“When I started university my essay writing was so bad that I got sent off to a remedial writing support service after submitting my first essay. One of the big drivers for entering was to just prove to myself I could do it.”
My family has been producing beef seedstock for for six generations, originating in Alberta Canada. We farm near Geelong in Victoria. My brother and I co own Mavstar Simmentals, and with my parents operate Maverick Simmentals.
I have grown up showing my own cattle with my family, and have competed in beef junior judging and paraders competitions since I was eight years old. I was very proud to win the National Champion Beef Cattle Parader in 2016. I am also now a recognised cattle judge.
Growing up on a beef and cropping property life and death was something I grew up understanding but I didn’t understand what true loss was until I lost my grandfather to cancer in 2012. My Pa and I were always very close. I grew up alongside him on the farm, and the cattle shows we attended as a family. He was, and continues to be a big part of our lives. When he became ill I realised life is precious, and little moments should be captured as a memory. From this moment on I began to capture little moments which we often just saw as everyday life with my family on the land, and my brother growing up through my camera.
From here I established my own photography business – Mavstar Photography. I specialise in rural and livestock photography. Pa left a legacy and that is our source of strength, and his impact on my life will always remain.
In my final year of high school, I was a school Prefect at Ballarat Grammar, I graduated with an ATAR that reflected the effort I had put into my schooling, as well as my passion for education. I was awarded two scholarships to Lincoln University in New Zealand, a Future Leader Scholarship and the Simon Gubbins Scholarship . Attending Lincoln University had a lasting impact on my life, and I met some truly amazing people and had some wonderful experiences.
Later in 2017 when I was back in Australia working, I was involved in a serious car accident. My injuries included severe nerve damage to my left side of my body, which I have mostly recovered from, and a fractured spine. 12 weeks of intensive care was the most emotionally and physically draining experience I have ever encountered. I spent months in a restrictive back brace, and day by day I gained the strength to walk properly again.
The car accident impacted my life dramatically, both physically and psychologically and in 2018, I sought EMDR trauma therapy, The treatment completely changed the way I viewed mental health. I realised there is so many options for help and support to get through some of the hardest times in life. My mum was my primary carer, and I will forever be appreciative for her contribution to my recovery.
I am where I am today within the field of agriculture because of the amount of support within the sector, the countless opportunities, as well as being able to find happiness in an industry that is so close to my heart. I am beyond grateful to be part an industry that feeds the globe, and I aim to follow in the footsteps of my family to produce top quality beef year after year. Most importantly, I hope others can find happiness and good health after events in their life which have impacted their pathway. I encourage individuals to find their passion, and to speak out in times of need because mental health is nothing to ashamed about, it is something that needs to be talked about so we can all support each other.
You can read more about Ruby in The Stock and Land here
Young Farming Champion Meg Rice (right) with Lauren Heritage-Brand on the red carpet at the Heywire Gala
Young Farming Champion Meg Rice recently had the opportunity to represent Art4Agriculture at the ABC Heywire Gala dinner at the Australian National Museum in Canberra. Here she met some very inspiring young rural Australians.
Each year the ABC conducts a storytelling competition, known as Heywire, for people aged 16-22 living in regional or rural Australia, and each year the organisation also selects a small group of young people, known as Trailblazers, to further share their stories and ideas with the nation as a whole. Meg mingled with both Heywire participants and alumni and 2019 Trailblazers at the gala dinner.
“There were many movers and shakers in the room who expressed their support and enthusiasm for the youth in rural and regional communities,”
Meg says. “Thank you for believing in us was the message conveyed by Heywire and TrailBlazer winners, and the enthusiasm was absolutely infectious. It was hard not to leave the event very inspired and motivated.”
Two of the Trailblazer winners, in particular, impressed Meg.
“Emma Moss is a very confident young woman brimming with excitement and enthusiasm who spoke with great conviction about bridging the urban/rural divide, particularly in the beef industry,” Meg says. Emma spent two years working on Kimberley and Pilbara cattle stations and established a strong Instagram following with her evocative photographs. Now studying sustainable agriculture at the University of Queensland at Gatton, Emma is keen to go into schools to talk about her agricultural experiences.
Joe Collins was the second Trailblazer winner to leave a strong impression on Meg.
“Joe is passionate about the sharing the importance of reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainability through community art,” Meg says, “and also using technology to improve the sustainability of agriculture.”
Joe, who is currently studying at university in Melbourne, hails from the tiny Victorian town of Woomelang (population 200). Inspired by the Grain Silo Art Trail he has painted eight large-scale murals of the environment and endangered species within his local community in an effort to encourage tourism and reinvigorate the economy of his town.
Meg herself is also kicking some impressive goals. She has accepted a position as a clerk with a Canberra law firm, which will see her specialise in rural succession planning when she graduates as a lawyer this year.
The Heywire team and Art4Agriculture share common values with Art4Agriculture supporting both agricultural (The Archibull Prize) and environmental (Kreative Koalas) causes. Congratulations to Meg, Emma and Joe for championing these values.
This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions around the country.
Happy National Agriculture Day!
This week we’ve gone all out to celebrate National Agriculture Day in a BIG way, culminating in The Archibull Prize National Awards and Exhibition Day at Sydney Olympic Park on Tuesday.
School students, teachers, YFC and special guests travelled from across Australia to be part of the 2018 Archibull Prize. Mega congrats to everyone involved: all the winners, participants, movers-and-shakers behind the scenes and espeically to Hurlstone Agricultural High School whose Archie “Brahman” took out the Grand Champion Archibull award for 2018. For full coverage head to our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter and look for our hashtag #Archie18
But for YFC, our #AgDay celebrations started earlier in the week when 13 YFC travelled to Sydney for a brilliantly engaging professional development workshop…
Current and alumnus Young Farming Champions gathered at the magnificent Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) Headquarters in Sydney for a workshop. Admiring the wonderful view of the harbour and the bridge from the boardroom of AWI, the YFC attended sessions on understanding and working with different personalities, understanding how policy is developed and refining the elevator pitches. This workshop the YFC were lucky enough to be joined by the experienced management team of Gaye Steel, Greg Mills and Jenni Metcalfe that challenged and brought the workshop to life as well as experts in the policy writing and social media fields.
This workshop also saw a YFC workshop first with 4 Alumni YFC joining via video conference on Sunday for a very special session with the incredible Paige Burton on the effective use and ins-and-outs of social media. This allowed some of our YFC to join from as far away as Wilcannia! Paige shared with the group many of the techniques of ensuring that the reach of the YFC are heard far and wide. We can certainly see how this young lady was named by Impact 25 as on of the 25 Most Influential People in the Social Sector. There will be many products of this workshop on social media this week for the #Archie18 Archibull prize awards.
The products of the weekend were even more accomplished YFC (which is hard to believe considering the rest of the achievements in this weeks Muster) in the arts of social media, pitches, interviewees and #youthvoices of agriculture!
In the Field
Grains YFC, farmer and talented photographer Marlee Langfield has started canola harvest on her property in the NSW Riverina. “I have harvested more seeds than I planted, so I’ve already won!” Marlee jokes! “Very busy times right now, but I’m loving it.” Check out this gorgeous shot Marlee took of her crop earlier in the season:
Did you catch Landline on Sunday? Cotton YFC Alexander Stephens is driver extraordinaire behind the wheel of the cotton harvester in this awesome story on the revival of cotton growing in the Kimberley Ord River region.
Out of the Field
Rice YFC Erika Heffer visited Parliament House in Sydney this week for the Parliamentary Friends of Landcare event, highlighting Local Landcare Coordinators who have run unique projects this year. Erika says, “The highlight was meeting ministers that have an interest in Landcare and hearing Niall Blair, the Minister for Primary Industries, acknowledge Rob Dulhunty, the Landcare NSW outgoing chair.”
Cotton YFC and founding member of Farmers for Climate Action Anika Molesworth spoke with ABC Radio National this week, tackling the question “How can farmers adapt and innovate to ensure the future of farming and our agricultural land?” Listen to Anika’s interview here.
Beef YFC and our current Aussie-in-Canada correspondent Kirsty McCormack presented for a 4H group in Brandon, Manitoba last week. She shared her insights on Young Farming Champion and Archibull Prize programs as well as the Australian beef industry and its challenges. Well done Kirsty!
Grains YFC Keiley O’Brien has been featured in this week’s Allied Grain Systems “Mates in Grain.”
Well done to Cotton YFC Alexandria Galea who was named a finalist in the Queensland Ministers Emerging Leader Award for innovation leading to profitability and sustainability. Finaists and winners were celebrated at Wednesday’s AgFutures Innovation and Investment Forum in Brisbane.
Congratulations to YFC Anika Molesworth on her win in the NSW and ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards on Friday. Anika took out the Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award. Well done!
Huge congrats to Wool YFC and Wool Technical Coordinator Sam Wan who is up for the title of Elders Employee of the Year. Kudos Sam!
Exciting international news for Beef YFC and stud Limousin cattle breeder Jasmine Green and husband Hayden from Summit Livestock. Jas and Hayden’s cow Summit Meadowgrass was named “Limousin Miss World” in the world Cattlemarket.net championships. While Jas stayed home to keep the stud cows fed and watered, Hayden travelled to Farmfair in Edmonton, Canada last week to receive the award. Summit Meadowgrass was nominated to represent Australia after winning supreme exhibit at Sydney Royal Show earlier this year. Incredible achievement, well done Jasmine!
Cotton YFC, agronomist and farmer Emma Ayliffe had a special visit from ADAMA Agricultural Solutions head office representatives (who’d just popped in from Israel!) and local managers last week to receive her Runner Up Young Agronomist of the Year award. Top job, Emma!
and today we bring you our Grains and Cattle and Sheep Archies
First bull of the truck is lil’ T-Bone from The Lakes College on NSW Central Coast.
The Lakes College is a Youth off the Streets alternate school who worked with Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes The school has done a champion of documenting their Archie journey on their blog. Check it out here
This is what Team TLC had to say about lil’ T-Bone
Our artwork clearly articulates that ‘The future is in our hands’, the current generation of young Australians. We hope our cow bridges the divide between rural and suburbia, politicians and our generation, as well as the disadvantaged and the advantaged in society.
As a team, we wanted our Archie to have an impact on the entire community by essentially transforming it into a giant moneybox to raise funds for rural grants and community initiatives. However, our cow is more then just a ‘cow bank’. It is a symbolic representation of the divide in the community and a call for action all at once.
Our Archie is not perfect. Neither are we (… no one is!) but, our Archie has heart. It encompasses our individual and unique traits, all we have learnt and reflects our core values. It is also, most importantly, an expression of community. We have had all members of our school working on this from our amazing students, to every single teacher, our incredibility hands on principal, generous volunteers, sister school ‘Mercy College’ and rap artist Losty. This totals over 50 people… that is 50 people we have educated about the current climate in agriculture, that is 50 hearts we have touched and we still have more people to reach.
Furthermore, our cow is able to give back to the rural community and help shape ‘Healthy Communities’ across our country. As a giant ‘cow’ bank (not piggy!) we are hoping to raise money for the Aussie Farmers Foundation by taking our cow out into the community. Community members can bridge the divide by making a donation and a pledge and placing it inside our cow.
Lil ‘T-bone is also marked to go on convey through rural NSW with Father Chris Riley in November this year. This is the cow that keeps on giving to our rural community. It is our way of recognising the courage farmers have and thanking them for their efforts. Our cow will bring about change, not just in our school but in the whole community.
Next Archie off the truck is ‘GRAIN’ville Bakery from the students at Granville Boys High School who partnered with Young Farming Champion Dan Fox
The GRAIN’ville Bakery of the World represents the importance of grain to all cultures of the world. In our Year 8 Einstein class there are over fourteen different cultures represented, the class connected with the topic of grain by investigation pastries from their cultural background. Our cow is a proud baker using Australian products creating pastries from around the world. His stomach is his oven and his rump are the serving boards
The flags on the spine of our cow represent the countries of our student’s heritage and flows into the tail which has Australian Grown written down it. These represent the importance of Australian grains to feeding the world, and are also a nod to the multiculturalism of the students coming from a variety of backgrounds but are also all Australian. This is why the baker cow has the Australian flag on his hat.
For city students that go to the bakery every day and who love their man’oushe (Lebanese za’atar flatbread) understanding the connection between the grains and their pastries is important. This is why represented on the legs are four grain, rice, corn, oats and wheat which connects the grains to the bakery. Connecting the country to the city.
Next up we have MacIntyre High School in Northern NSW who partnered with YFC Meg Rice to study the Grains industry and create Daffy.
Our cow is called Daffy as there is an elderly retired farmer whom frequently visits our school farm to offer help and show cattle and he is a bit of an icon so we thought we’d remind our teacher of him being around by naming the cow Daffy to have some fun!! (bush humour…)
Daffy is from the heart of country kids suffering through a 100 year drought where time and energy are precious resources. Each student who participated did it in scarce time as we all have been needed on our farms to cart water, feed sheep and cattle and poddying (bottlefeeding) many newborns which are all priority tasks of everyday life that take us from our school work, homework and assessment needs.
One side of Daffy shows the process of growing a crop from seed to harvest going through stages of growth from 3 leaf to 5 leaf to tillering, booting and seedset and the machinery involved along the way.
The other side of daffy shows the issues facing production and pathway to new improved techniques for sustainability to lead us from the drought and parched land to hope and growth. Her head is pointing to the future where the career paths lay. The jumble of careers represent the thoughts of our ambitions and possibilities.
On Daffy’s legs are what drives the motions of crop production with basic gear like rubber tyres and tyned implements and press wheels for that ideal soil and seed contact for growth and germination.
Archie no 30 come from Kellyville High School in Western Sydney. The students partnered with YFC Dan Fox to study the Grains industry and create Ceres.
She represents the fertility of the earth and was the Roman God of Agriculture. The Greeks called her Demeter. Most cultures have a deity they trust the growing of crops and food to, in Aboriginal culture from NSW the name is Birrahgnooloo, Kamilaroi.
Our cow “Ceres” pays homage to the way mankind has created sculptures over time, that have looked on to help with the harvest.
We recognise the importance of technologies and improvements of the agricultural experts to improve productivity and quality of grains for food and feed.We also recognise the effect of chance and the elements, clean air, water, heat and earth on growing successful yields of crops.
Pretty impressive aren’t they. Now whilst the art judge ponders her choices its your turn next
Watch this space as next week we will launch the People’s Choice and you can support the schools and pick your favourite Archie
in 2017 the people’s choice blog post was a social media phenomenon. 185,000 people across the globe visited the blog post 65,000 people voted in the poll.
Our resident YFC “Meat Doctor” Steph Fowler is moving into the next phase of her merino genetics trial, with 600 lambs processed and sampled for meat quality traits. Steph says it will be a while yet before the samples are processed but it’s exciting to have all the samples finally collected for the year! Can’t wait to hear these results, Steph.
Grains YFC Keiley O’Brien has kicked off this years hay making season, giving a canola crop the chop in Narromine, NSW. Fingers crossed for a good season ahead!
Out of the Field
Wool YFC and Youth Voices Leadership Committee chair Dr Jo Newton has spent the weekend at the Royal Melbourne Show, stewarding for the White Suffolk, Suffolk & South Suffolk Judging. Jo says, “Being a steward is a bit like being a secretary for the judge who is in charge of assessing the animals. At the MelbShow we used a tablet to record the results for each class, make sure owners (& judge) know what animals are needed in the judging ring as well as announcing results on the microphone.” If you’re at the Melbourne show this week make sure you pass by the Sheep Shed and say G’day to Jo!
YFC and Green Globe Awards Finalist Anika Molesworth has hit the radio waves again with a great interview on Hit 99.7 Riverina. Anika has been working to make NSW a more eco-friendly place to live, and she joined the show to talk to Claire & Sam about how she feels about being nominated for an Award. Take a listen here
Anika was also featured on the Weekly Times this week, talking about farming in outback NSW, championing for climate action and her PhD work. This is a lovely insight into a wonderful ag champion. Well done Anika! Read it here
The famous Henty Machinery Field Days were on this week and Wool YFC Dione Howard and Rice YFC Erika Heffer were both there. Dione and fellow vets from Riverina and Murray Local Land Services were answering animal health and biosecurity questions over the three days, while Erika was in the Landcare shed.
It was a busy week in the office for Dione who then headed to the Hay Sheep Sale on Wednesday, where approximately 47,000 sheep were sold. Dione says many properties were selling large numbers of sheep due to the ongoing dry conditions.
Dione ran into fellow YFC Chloe Dutschke at the sale who had travelled from Tupra station, where she has been contracting for the last couple of months. Great pic, ladies!
Cotton YFC Sharna Holman is super keen to be heading to “Go Ahead” Greg Mills‘s extension workshop in Townsville next week, as part of the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network 2018 Roadshow. Greg is a consultant on all things agribusiness extension, was the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2017 Consultant of the Year, and is a great friend of the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions program. We have no doubt you’ll have a great day and take home many valuable insights Sharna!
Well done to Grains YFC Dee George (front left) who has been touring the Royal Melbourne Show this week in her role as a Victorian Rural Ambassador State Finalist. #YouthinAg #RoyalMelbourneShow
And congrats to YFCs Sharna Holman and Alexandria Galea #teamcotton who were both recently elected to the Wincott – Women in Cotton committee, Sharna as communications officer and Alexandria as a regional representative for Central Queensland. Check out these great introductions to Sharna and Alexandria on the Wincott facebook page.
Massive milestone moment right now for University of New England students, Poultry YFC Jasmine Whitten and Wool YFC Emma Turner, who both have their honours seminars today.
Jasmine’s honours is investigating the effect of environmental enrichment on fearfulness of pullets (young layer hens). Emma’s honours studies the implementation of shorter shearing intervals. Huge congratulations for all the hard work and time you’ve both put into reaching these milestones. Enjoy this moment!
Exciting times ahead for Cattle and Sheep YFC and Rabobank graduate Felicity Taylor who has just received a promotion as a Rabobank Rural Officer. Felicity will spent the next two months in the Netherlands working in Rabobank’s Global Food and Agriulture Sector, supporting multinational agribusinesses, as part of her current graduate position before moving back to her hometown of Moree, NSW, to begin her new position. Mega congrats Felicity!
The team at Art4Agriculture are all abuzz – spotted on Facebook two of our Reserve Grand Champion Archies up for auction at the 2018 Henry Lawson Festival
Last seen on display in the Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries Office in Martin Place in Sydney where next will they be found next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
According to our source at the school after competing in the program for five years with great success the school has made the decision ( not lightly) to build on their success and spread the wonderful agricultural messages and themes on Thimbull (Cotton) and Bulleyes (Cattle) and generate some funds for the school.
We agree . ‘What a great addition to any prime breeding herd!’
The Henry Lawson Festival seemed the perfect time to hold a dutch auction.
You will find the Henry Lawson High School stand in the main street of the festival. Members of the public can register and leave a bid which will be displayed. For example Bidder 21 – $100
Anyone not at the festival can put in a bid by contacting Ashley Kuhn on 0432 805 025
Bidding closes 9th June 2018 at 2.30pm
Here is your chance to grab a bovine masterpiece and share the story of agriculture far and wide
This is what the judge had to say about Bulleyes
#archieaction18 #youthvoices #archieauction
Please note: Transport Costs are at buyer own expense.
We are thrilled to announce that Bulleyes and Thimbull will be sharing the great stories of Australia agriculture with students at Grenfell Public School and a new pre school in Wagga
Currently on the journey of a lifetime to ParisCOP21 Josh has just been named in the top 200 people in the running for the Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 list
From CEOs of some of Australia’s largest charities and the Prime Minister, to one-person teams, the Not for Profit sector has spoken and nominated a wide range of people for the second Pro Bono Australia Impact 25.
Almost 200 people from across Australia and almost every aspect of the for-good sector have been recognised for being the most influential.
You can vote for Josh here and excitingly another legend in agriculture has also made the list. Make Alexandra Gartmann one of your three votes
After two weeks of voting, the top 25 influencers will be unveiled, acknowledging them for being leaders in a sector that accounts for 4.3 per cent of Australia’s GDP and employs over one million people.
With hundreds of people taking part in the nomination process, CEOs dominate the list of nominees, with 63 being chosen.
There were also former and current prime ministers, 2015’s Australian of the Year, and an author.
A large number of nominees also came from the executive level of Not for Profit organisations.
Last year’s Impact 25 was made up of a wide selection of household names, including World Vision CEO, Tim Costello, and domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty, both of whom have been nominated again this year.
Voting is now open and will close on Thursday 3 December.
Today’s guest post comes from Nick Hovey who is combining his love of the land, cattle and dogs to breed cattle that provide both nutritious protein and have a low environmental footprint
This is Nick’s story ……….
Beef cattle and working dogs: It isn’t often that I’m not talking about either one of these two topics. Or in general…Agriculture and farming.
A David and Goliath moment if I ever saw one
Growing up in three capital cities my ‘fate’ didn’t look like I would end up on a farm. My ‘want’ to be a farmer began at a very early age when my family would make a once yearly road-trip to Gulargambone NSW. Why Gular?? Mum’s sister and her husband lived on a sheep/wheat property there. Uncle Phil took my brother and I everywhere with him for the week that we were there; whether it was simply moving mobs, shearing, drenching or lamb marking, we were always there.
I am the youngest of three children and the only one who ended up on the land. My schooling years were spent in Adelaide, Melbourne and then finally settled in Sydney where my primary school years were spent bragging about our visits to ‘my uncle’s farm’. High school was interesting for me as I went to Saint Ignatius College, Riverview. There were 250 students in my year, of which some were boarders from farming families. I spent some holidays on mate’s properties and we helped out with some of the mustering duties. It was in year nine at Riverview that I was introduced to the Ag program and show cattle. For the next four years I spent plenty of afternoons (when I wasn’t at footy training) down at the Ag plot preparing steers for various shows.
Nick Hovey combining a love of the land, cattle and dogs to live the dream
Inspired by being part of the school cattle show team my passion for the sheep industry suddenly shifted to beef cattle. Through the show program I met many people and was fortunate enough to be taken under their wing. After leaving school, I decided to take six months off study before starting at the University of Western Sydney. After the first six to eight weeks of uni I just wasn’t enjoying it and still wanted to be a grass roots farmer. Alistair McLaren saw this and took me in, gave me a job on the Angus stud that he managed and guided me in the right direction. It was then that I managed to finally get my first working dog.
Somehow in the year of 2011 I managed to wrangle two jobs (Tobruk Sheep Station and Sweven Angus) along with TAFE at Richmond. Tobruk was a great experience, which gave me the ability to hone my public speaking in front of what were mainly Japanese, Chinese or Korean tourists whilst doing something that I really enjoyed. It gave me the opportunity to get my Kelpie dog working in the yards, learn to shear and also teach people how to crack a whip and throw the odd boomerang. The days at Tobruk were rewarding, Sweven were challenging and TAFE started to give me a step up.
The progression onto a large sheep breeding operation in the Goulburn district was a challenge. I was still seen as that ‘city kid’ and many people didn’t think that I could do it. However, I am grateful for the time that I had both there and then in Illabo on a mixed enterprise in 2012 that my bosses had the faith in me. I will never forget the night in the Illabo pub where I was told ‘well, from the city you must be not much chop eh?’. It is the paradigm of thought such as this that has helped me to strive to be the best that I can possibly be.
I still loved the idea of showing cattle at Sydney Royal, however 2012 was my final year and I haven’t looked back. At the beginning of my employment at the Chudleigh’s property in Frogmore it was very clear that I would not be allowed to show cattle at the Sydney due to shearing. By that stage I had completed a Holistic Management course, which really opened up my eyes to using the ‘tools’ of our trade in a different manner. The idea of regenerative agriculture and the ability to capture and store carbon in the soil through the use of planned grazing management and recovery periods has really appealed to me.
It feels like I have packed a lot into the five and a half years since leaving school, however I have appreciated the opportunities and experience that have been put to me and have tried not to let one pass me up. I now feel like I have found my niche with my position as the Assistant Manager at Coota Park Blue-E.
Nick Hovey Assistant Farm Manger at Coota Park Blue-E
We currently have 600 breeding females, growing out our steers to feedlot weight and joining all our heifers.
Measuring Feed Conversion efficiency is the measuring the ability of cattle to turn grass in beef ( or milk) as efficiently as they possibly can. We are currently running two tests per year in the purpose built facility that has 48 individual pens. For a period of 91 days (21 of which are allow for the bull calves to adjust to the ration) we have bulls in the pens. Feed is weighed into each bull’s feed tub and what isn’t eaten is weighed at the end of each week. Every fortnight, the bulls are weighed and then put into new pens. I love this because the methane emitted from a cow, bull, steer or heifer is directly related to the amount of feed eaten. So beyond the fact that cattle that are highly efficient grass converters require less feed for the same weight gain they also have a smaller footprint on the planet
I am also very passionate about my team of working dogs, they have the brains and ability to get to cattle in the hills that the motorbikes are physically not capable.
Taking my dogs to working cattle dog trials has become a hobby of mine, which means that my best mates aren’t only with me at work, they are there for play too. I’ll tell you an important thing to remember – your dogs will always listen, you can tell them anything and be confident that they wont blurt it out to anybody else.
So if you see me around, chances are dogs and cattle will come up in conversation. But I am always open to new ideas and conversations.
We give our cattle the best environmentally friendly life experience we can and we are proud to know that when they go of to be processed we are part of the team of Australian beef farmers who supply 6 billion protein meals to the world each year
BTW if you want to know more about the science around feed conversion efficiency and breeding cattle fit for purpose that have a lower environmental impact. You can find a paper written by Coota Park principal Jon Wright given at the Grasslands Conference here
Today’s guest blog from Hannah Powe is a story about following your passion and grabbing opportunities with both hands. Hannah’s love of beef cattle has taken her from New South Wales to New Zealand and through the cattle country of Canada and the US. Wherever she is, Hannah will be happy as long as there are cows!
Here’s Hannah’s story…
“Some folks just don’t get it. They think owning cattle makes no sense. It takes too much time, too much equipment, not to mention the expense. But the fondest memories of my life – they might think sound funny – were made possible by Mum and dad, ‘cause they spent the time and they spent the money. You see, the most important lessons helping values grow so strong, come from loving cattle and passing that tradition on” – The Tradition
Hi, my name is Hannah Powe and I’ve spent my life surrounded by motivated, encouraging and passionate people who all love the same thing I do: Beef Cattle.
My interest in agriculture has grown from those people, along with the support and drive of my mum and dad. Growing up in the Hawkesbury region of NSW my family primarily grew mushrooms; beef cows were simply a hobby. But this farm girl always had a desire to make it so much more.
From a young age I remember running around among the cows with my big sister, getting stuck in the mud, playing with calves and travelling across the state to attend shows and visit friends on other farms. The part I loved most was always simply look at and being surrounded by cattle.
Even though I grew up close to Sydney, I appreciated having such an agricultural based childhood. It made me aware of where our clothes came from, how food was produced and the overall connection and importance of primary producers in the scale of everyday living in Australia.
My decision to pursue a career in agriculture and the beef cattle industry begun at my first Angus Youth Roundup held at Canberra in 2009. Coming from a Murray Grey background – my parents started our stud with primarily Murray Greys in the 1980 – and having little experience in how a heifer show worked, I was surprised by how professional, yet also welcoming and eager, every was. Throughout that weekend I met many people that challenged and motivated me to want to learn more. I placed 3rd in my first ever parader class and gained new friends – many who are still my closest friends today.
Growing up, I was always a quietly spoken and shy girl. It was a continual struggle for my family and friends to get me to speak in public, especially to take part in a junior judging competition, until I had to associate judge the cattle section at the 2009 Boorowa Show. People that have seen me grow and flourish still remind me of this experience every year, especially when I’m in the position of helping someone younger who faces similar challenges to me. It really grounds me, shows me how far I have come as a person and highlights how lucky I am to be supported by the beef industry and individuals who have helped along the way.
After this there was no looking back, or should I say, no holding me back. I have sought out every opportunity to compete in junior judging competitions as well as had the privilege to associate or judge local shows across the state. Travelling far and wide across Australia and internationally, to represent my breeds and meet likeminded, passionate and encouraging people that fuel my drive to achieve. I am thankful to my family for never holding me back.
People that know the Powe family, know that it’s a family thing. Our cattle are the glue that sticks us all together. Mum and dad manage our property while my sister and her husband grow the feed that my dad mixes to feed the cattle. When we go to a show or field day each person has their role and even though we probably don’t always seem like it, we are thankful to have each other there.
In 2009 we introduced Red Angus to our herd as the focus breed which has been an exciting and rewarding endeavour, with many major successes.
The next year I moved away to boarding school at Yanco Agricultural High School. My family believed this would help me ‘focus’ but while I did study, I spent every spare moment working with the beef show stock team. I felt Yanco was a place where I belonged – a home away from home, with cows. Being situated on a rural property, surrounded by like-minded agricultural kids from across Australia, and the industry events I was exposed to really pushed me to want so much more.
After school I made the natural choice to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. To gain experience in another part of the red meat production chain, while at uni I challenged myself by taking part in the Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition (ICMJ).
My hunger to learn about international agriculture and different beef production systems began in 2013 when I had the privilege to compete for Australia in the World Angus Forum (WAF) in New Zealand. The WAF is the pinnacle of the Angus community, bringing people together to celebrate and learn about the breed’s progression worldwide. New Zealand will always be a connection to so many different countries for me; I was lucky enough to meet a network of international delegates which has led to many overseas adventures to areas no one would have imagined.
Directly following the WAF I travelled to Canada for a six week individual travel program. A highlight of the trip was being able to attend Northland’s FarmFair International and Canadian Western Agribition – two of the major stock shows in Canada – as an Australian delegate. I spent time visiting with producers of bulls we use in our production system and saw new and upcoming genetics, all while working in a totally new environment and making another home away from home with cows.
Following my overseas adventure, my interest changed direction and I became more driven to engage, influence and share information with others. Previously being part of the Angus Youth committees, in 2014 I took on the role of communications and promotions director before this year becoming the vice-chairperson. I hope to keep giving back to the programs that encouraged and influenced me. One thing I love is seeing kids grow, develop and become more confident within our industry.
Recently I chose to explore the other side of our production system – the commercial beef industry. Throughout my summer holidays I worked at JBS Swift Riverina Beef Feedlot located in Leeton, NSW as part of the animal induction team. Busy days made for enjoyable learning about grading cattle going into the feedlot and animal health programs.
In 2014 I was privileged to be awarded the Murray Grey Senior Youth Ambassador that enabled me to undertake an international study trip to Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas. As well as studying subjects in genetics, reproduction and US beef production systems, I had the opportunity to explore the local stock shows and visit world class facilities for reproduction technologies and beef data analysis.
In my six years of involvement in the beef industry, the most significant and memorable moments have come from being surrounded by people that push and challenge me, the wise words of wisdom or support they offer, and the friendships made with families on the holiday show circuit.
But the most rewarding part is the love I have for my animals and the simple joy the cattle bring to my life. Those that know me well, know to not get between Hannah and her cow! My passion for them is never ending.
The only certain thing I can say about my future is that I know it will be with beef cattle – a passion instilled in me thanks to my family. I am about to undertake my final year work placement at Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) and Animal Genetic Breeding Unit (ABGU) in Armidale, NSW, where I will gain experience in genetics, research and data, and work alongside some of the industry’s great influential minds.
Home is where the cows are and I know no matter where I am in the world I can find refuge in the back blocks surrounded by cattle, enjoying the true agricultural experiences many of us dream about.