1. Summary of your family and farming enterprise
My name is Angus Whyte I live with my wife Kelly and 8 year old son Mitchell at “Wyndham”, a 12,500ha pastoral property on the Anabranch River 85km north of Wentworth NSW. We consider ourselves “graziers”, in that we turn plants into money through livestock and we don’t mind what sort of livestock we run.
Currently we have 320 Santa/Droughtmaster heifers joined to Angus bulls, 1500 merino ewes that are being joined to either Merino or White Suffolk rams, 900 merino lambs and 600 Dorper ewes that are on agistment here, by the time you read this we may have bought more stock as our number are very “fluid” and change with the amount of feed available.
We also have some freshwater lake beds that are filled by the Anabranch River in flood that we can crop on receding floodwaters; this is very simple cropping that even we can do, in that you put a seed in, it grows and then you harvest it, no chemical or fertilizer required. Currently these lakes are full and with another flow coming down the river cropping may be a couple of years away yet as it normally takes about 18 months for the lakes to dry up.
Our farming passion revolves more around the management of the land and the restoration of more species and better water use efficiency, unfortunately the only way we can get paid is by selling livestock/fibre, having said that if we were identified and managed for conservation our management would be exactly the same.
My Mother and Father live on another property about 20km north of us called “Willow Point” and we help them running that property as well, that is where I grew up and my passion for farming was nurtured.
Our attitude to farming is simply to work with nature rather than against, so we no longer have weeds, we have “plants with stories” that we can learn from and our aim is to make our business simple and our ecosystem extremely complex, the more complex the better.
We see that by running stock in large mobs normally > 2,000dse’s (dry sheep equivalents) this allows us to prune the plants and then also allow those plants adequate rest to re-grow, as we are 100% responsible for our ecosystem if we are seeing an increase in undesirable plants then it is something in our management that is inviting them in.
Our management system is unique to Wyndham and has developed over the 10 years since we embarked on this change, it certainly results in much less work and seems to deliver good on ground results.
We have plenty of people that have helped us along the way and they still support us to this day, Principle Focus first opened our eyes to the possibilities ( http://www.principlefocus.com.au/ ). Then we needed more skills to manage our livestock so Grahame Rees and Low Stress Stock handling helped out (http://www.lss.net.au/), we found out about KLR marketing (http://www.klrmarketing.com.au/) through Grahame and that has helped us deliver a better return on our livestock dollar while making sure we don’t over sell our grass.
I’m sure that anyone that goes through a significant change has to have plenty of support and we have been very lucky to have lots of great people in our corner.
???2. For you, what is the best lifestyle factor that you enjoy as a farmer?
Definitely the ability to spend a lot of time with your family, this includes working with your partner in the business and as we live a long way from a school the ability to have a positive input into Mitchell’s education by teaching him through the wonderful School of the Air (Broken Hill). We also enjoy the closeness to “Mother Nature” that managing land allows, added to this the working with livestock and we have some wonderful gifts that we enjoy. We also have the ability to produce most of our own delicious food with home killed meat, vegies straight out of the garden (with only a bit of water added!) and the wonderfully quite peaceful times spent listening to the most beautiful wild birds and animals.
???3. What do you foresee as your biggest short term and long term challenges ?in farming?
I see the tug-a-war between Food security vs Riverine health v health of land and people as being the biggest issue.
My opinion is that we need to focus on all of the issues rather than try and work on one in isolation, they certainly are all linked. If we put more focus on “rain fed” agriculture using bio-diverse pastures to grow more animal products with the waste used to grow vegies this would address a number of these issues, I know it doesn’t sound life changing, it certainly could be. With my background in Catchment/river management I think that we need to look very closely at all river and Floodplain management more so than just trying to manage the Murray-Darling basin to a number rather than “listening” to the rivers needs.
???4. What do you wish non-farmers / city people & the Australian Government ?understood about farming. What message would you like to put on a billboard ?in Collins Street?
If you would like to eat healthy food, make friends with a farmer.
You can connect with Gus on Twitter @GusWhyte