Sustainable free range farming in tropical QLD
In the world of farming, a saying you often hear is “get big or get out.”
But one family at Eton in North Queensland is bucking the trend by moving away from large broad acre grain farming to an old cane farm to invest in chemical free, sustainable farming.
Deb McLucas and Rob Bauman decided to share farm their Central Queensland grain property and focus on a new venture at “Freckle Farm.”
“We weren’t happy farming that way and we wanted to do something that we felt would be more sustainable.”
“We’ve seen lots of changes, even in our generation, like depletion in the fertility of soil and question the conventional system.”
The couple says it’s all about family friendly farming, a direct relationship with customers and improving the soil quality.
A rotational grazing system is used on the old cane pastures, using relocatable electric fences to cycle animals around the property.
The pigs, chickens and cattle all have a role to play in improving the depleted soil and the family plans to grow vegetables when stock aren’t grazing some areas.
They’re now 18 months into trialling the different farming methods and it’s been both rewarding and challenging for the family, with experience in large scale farming.
“When you’re looking at farming pigs and chickens it’s a different thing to get your head around.”
“Plus our seasons are quite challenging here, as we know it can be hot and dry and then you’ve got the deluges that we have to deal with when summer comes around with the humidity, flooding and wet weather,” Deb says.
“We’re starting slowly but we’re at a stage now where we’re reading to get our permits approved by council so we can run the bigger numbers.”
She says as soon as the permits are ready they can become fully commercial.
Already they’ve been selling some of the pork products direct and building up a strong customer base, which according to Deb and Rob, have a growing hunger for free range, chemical free produce.
“We’re actually having a problem keeping up the supply to everybody.”
They haven’t been actively marketing their produce, instead old fashioned word of mouth has done the trick.
She says the product sells itself because it’s different to what people find on the supermarket shelves.
“They’re different breeds to the conventional animals that you see run and we feel the big difference is they’re raised on pasture.
“That totally changes the flavour of the meat and the eggs have a stronger and brighter orange yolk.”
Deb says they’ve crunched the numbers for the first 12 months of running the different enterprises and she believes it will be a profitable investment.
However money isn’t the only measure of the farm’s success.
“There’s other things you can’t measure and the great thing is it gives us an opportunity to work on something we’re really passionate about but also involving our children.”
Source: abc.net.au: Rural