- My Story Is
a) Property(s) location, area and proximity major centres
Property in two parts. Located 10km north of Orroroo and 17km south-west, South Australia.
b) Return on investment and how much investment sought and what this will go to purchasing (land and operations)?
Seeking $1.9 million investment for land and development. Expect to offer ROI of 6.5%+
I have significant experience with all facets of sheep farming including my Australian Wool woolclassing stencil and management experience. My father, is looking to retire but wishes to help out with small jobs and consult; he has 40years experience farming this area.
d) What will be grown on the farm and how much?
Merino Sheep. Both live lamb sales and fine merino wool. Barley, Oats and legumes are planted opportunistically for feed and in the right year may be harvested for seed sales on parts of the property.
e) The main reason you see this is a great investment opportunity?
The business plan is time intensive on my part but sound. It is also extremely scalable, more land equals more sheep BUT major investments such as a shearing shed will not be needed twice.
f) Investment opportunity
The ROI is quite reasonable and this is a family business I am trying to revive and grow. That makes me rather invested in making the project succeed,
“THE FARM” and “THE NEARBY FARM” make the the properites for this investment
Total Arable Land
Total Grazing Land
Approx 3000 Acres
Distance to markets, abattoir, agriculture supply businesses
We have Elders and Landmark agriculture merchandise stores in Orroroo.
The two nearest markets are Jamestown 45km and Dublin 220km.
The nearest abattoir is Murray Bridge 310km away. As a side note there is a local small scale abattoir for sale nearby at Wilmington 50km away. This would be helpful is a branded lamb business was to be developed. It is also utilised by local butchers.
The district and what is commonly farmed
The district of Orroroo has been traditionally sheep, cattle and cereal crop farming since it was developed. It is well suited to this.
There is some shedding on the farm but nothing significant.
Number of Houses/Accommodation and quality?
There is a house on the farm that will continue to be lived in by my father.
Rainfall and weather patterns
Most of our rainfall is in winter although spring/summer thunderstorms are common. The two blocks in question receive between 12 and 15 inches of rain per year.
Fencing and tracks
Fencing is in need of significant repair and has been allowed for in the initial investment. I have significant experience fencing both on farm and as a contractor and can handle this job.
The farm has a good water supply but windmill needs servicing annually.
The farm has a huge asset when it comes to water. A mining company recently relinquished rights to a bore they drilled a couple of years back. It is suitable for livestock and runs at 22psi. More than enough supply to water that block and any other land leased of purchased nearby. This is artesian basin water and will never run dry.
Soil Type suited to production?
The soil has not been tested but is extremely good at growing quality livestock feed and crops. The let down for potential higher yields is our low rainfall, this is why livestock are a safer option and more profitable long term.
Shearing shed, improvements to water reticulation, fencing, sheep handling yards and a sprouted barley fodder system are all required.
Land use restrictions
No land use restrictions are in place.
Mains power is available to both blocks of land.
Mobile phone coverage
Some mobile phone coverage is available in the area through Telstra but it can be patchy.
THE FARM Currently owned by father
“THE NEARBY FARM” Currently owned by neighbour
Past/current operations description
”THE FARM” mixed farming. Sheep and cereal cropping with small herd of cattle last 2 years.
”THE NEARBY FARM” Sheep grazing only for over 15 years. Cattle grazing preceded that.
How were these numbers derived? From own experience, with advisor, with current farmer, based on current figures?
These number are based on current market values and experience with the current farms.
$440, 000 (2200 Ewes)
$1, 850, 000
The farming plan
How you will run it
I plan to run the farm using a suitable combination of Holistic Grazing and “No Kill Cropping”. This combination maximises the regenerative soil building nature of livestock grazing and gives the ability to capitalise on great cropping years to make extra income. Using these principles to intensively manage the property ensures it is never wasted nor over farmed.
Best practice soil and moisture maintenance
Using holistic grazing the sheep spread their waste across the whole paddock essentially watering and fertilising at no cost. They are also moved on quickly giving all plants adequate recovery time. This all locks in both carbon and moisture. By using no till farming when cereals are planted ensures this is never compromised. This also prevents any disturbance in beneficial mycorrhizial fungi in the soil which help the fodder thrive.
Where do you see the big up-side to improving the farm?
The primary goal of this farm is to develop it into a flourishing wool producing property. The biggest up side is the potential to add in a branded meat business with the lamb and then possibly branch out further. There is a growing market for organic and/or farm direct produce and the Flinders Ranges brand sells itself.
This is all beneficial for the local community as well as our family.
Where is funding sought to conduct upgrades and why?
Much of the two blocks we wish to develop are either bare land or in need of much renovation to fencing and waters. This is a part of the project that will last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. Developing it in the planned way allows us to maximise stocking and pasture management. The biggest threat to running big mobs of livestock is accessibility to water and this solves that problem.
There is also no facilities for shearing which is quite important. This upgrade can be utilised no matter how large the farm grows in the future.
The sprouted fodder system is a huge upgrade to the property. Initially it gives the ability to double our natural stocking rates. Due to the size of the property this doesnt mean the animals will be over crowded but is the equivalent of putting out a super efficient bale of hay every day, to boot its 100% digestable so no wastage.
Down the line as we grow this same system can be used to grow out lambs if unrequired for the ewes. If there are periods of the year when our own livestock do not require the extra feed then its perfect for fattening trade stock as its highly digestable and no toxicity risk.
Intention to build & protect carbon incrementally over time
There is a strong focus in my farming technique on rebuilding soil and soil health. Where possible I plan to continue sowing into perennial pastures with cereal or legume annuals. This provides extra feed for livestock as well as extra “bulk” in the paddock as many of our winter grasses all but blow away during the summer. I also have some plans for summer crops in the higher summer rainfall areas. Studies on cover crops have shown that for every tonne of plant cover above ground results in an extra 17, 000-20, 000L of water retention in the soil. Rainfall being our biggest drawback this is of huge benefit. The combination of cover crops, “pasture cropping” with no till and widespread old man saltbush plantations provide a good recipe for not only maintaining carbon in the soil but building on it.
Sustainable stocking rates according to carrying capacity of area
As has been mentioned previously the proposed stocking rate is higher than the carrying capacity of the surrounding area. Natural stocking rate for the whole lot would be 1500 ewes and I propose 2500 ewes. This is because of the fodder system supplement which accounts for half of the ewes daily food requirement.
Two reasons I believe this is worthwhile. Firstly it provides consistency of feed throughout the year even when green feed is scarce during summer. This also benefits the pastures as they get “watered” and “fertilised” even during these periods. Second the increase in stocking rate provides a higher ROI for an investor giving a bit of a buffer in case of poorer conditions.
Integrated crop/animal rotation to enable best diversity
Much of this has been mentioned above in various categories but I wish to use a combination of seeding various annual varieties into pastures to provide variation in plants for the soils benefit as well as the livestock. By utilising large mobs in quick rotation we can focus animal impact over the whole property giving everything a chance to recover properly. Other farmers in the area utilising rotational grazing have seen the significant recovery of grass and clover varieties they believed were eradicated from their pastures years ago.
Protection & respect of sensitive areas of biodiversity and waterways
There are no sensitive areas of interest on the property however in regard to respecting and protecting the land in general I prefer to think of my management method as Intensively Managing rather than intensive farming. For example keeping an eye on the paddocks and if they need to be rotated ahead of schedule in the best interests of the grasses then so be it.
What will you grow and produce (grain or dairy, potentially beef, not horticulture yet)
Primary goal of the property is to farm merino sheep for wool as this is the best use for the land. I also have a dozen Red Wagyu and South Devon cows that I am experimenting with. I would like to develop this into a small scale beef enterprise and also wouldn’t mind trying some pasture raised meat chickens or egg layers it the time came where it suited the farm. All of these enterprises can complement each other very well.
Regenerative and/or ecological farming principles (beyond organic). Biodiversity aspects.
The concept for this farm is based on a combination of a number of different principles including but not limited to No Till & No Kill cropping, Holistic Grazing, pasture & cover cropping. Because of the initial size of property and our farming landscape it could not be described as biodynamic but thats is my long term aim. To bring nothing into the farm environment but extra seed.
Much of this has been mentioned above in various categories but I wish to use a combination of seeding various annual varieties into pastures to provide variation in plants for the soils benefit as well as the livestock. By utilising large mobs in quick rotation we can focus animal impact over the whole property giving everything a chance to recover properly and prevent the need for external fertilisers. Other farmers in the area utilising rotational grazing have seen the significant recovery of grass and clover varieties they believed were eradicated from their pastures years ago. I also wish to continue planting saltbush as a wind break, drought fodder source and shelter belt for native birds and animals.
What is your vision for the farm over the next 2 years and in 10 years time?
My vision is that in the next two years we will be fully set up with fencing for smaller paddocks, water systems, new shearing shed, no till cropping equipment and have a good idea of the direction our flock of sheep is going.
Within 10 years I expect that we will have been able to pick up some land for lease or purchase either to grow more of our own seed grain, graze more sheep or a combination of both. We will also have established markets for direct from farm produce.
Will you need staff?
Initially I believe that I will be able to handle the workload by myself with minimal help from my father, as mentioned earlier, and limited use of contractors.
As we expand long term it may be necessary to hire a seasonal worker or full time staff member.
Training and ongoing education
I believe I have the knowledge I need at this stage to move forward successfully with my own farm however I do keep an eye out for any training or information days that could be useful.
Support/advisors you need, contacts you will use
I have the support of my wife and family for my farming enterprise, thats the most important for day to day farming. I have also been quite hands on the last few years with the family farm so have good relationships with the local stock agents etc. Due to my work around the state I also have a significant network of peers that come in handy for trouble shooting issues and ideas.
Is the farm large enough to meet scale requirements – if not, solutions?
The farm as proposed is at a reasonable scale. Enough to support myself and offer an investor a good return. Because of the relatively ‘easy’ commercial farming nature of the farm it means that we can expand easily and quickly dependant on land either by purchase/lease and feed for the livestock. There is a significant amount of land around that will be expected to come on the market in this area within the next 10 years so its plausible that we could expand from 3000 acres to over 10, 000 acres relatively quickly with the right team.
Technology you will use to manage the farm
For cropping I intend to use no till farming principles. Namely “knife points” on a combine. “Double disc openers” would be ideal but terribly expensive so that is a view for the future.
In regard to the livestock I intend to use pregnancy testing to increase the fertility of the mob long term. This has been shown to increase weaning rates significantly over only a few years for a cost of under $1 per head. I also intend to use live weighing and wool testing to maintain quality and consistency in the flock. Regular testing for worms and parasites can also increase feed efficiency and growth rates.
Demonstrate there is a demand & an established market for your products, either:
· Locally- We have a local sheep market at Jamestown monthly that sells upto 10, 000 head of sheep.
· Domestically- Domestically the market for wool and lambs is going crazy. There is a significant lack of supply due to changes in some farmers changing their direction and droughts and changing climate around the country. My father sold lambs in June 2017 for 40% higher than I have budgeted.
· Export- Australian wool of the class we are aiming for is always in demand world wide. We are considered a premium product and that isnt going away any time soon. There is growing market for organic produced wool etc and I believe this is worth looking into also.
Secure market and contract/avenue for product(s)
As mentioned above the domestic markets are very secure and quite consistent. I also voiced an opinion earlier that I believe a private meat market was worth pursuing. This is another avenue that would add extra value to the product, there is a producer a couple of towns over that sells all his lambs this way and cannot keep up with demand.
Your social media plan
I currently run a page for my Red Wagyu called Flinders Edge Wagyu. I started this mostly because I had interested peers that wanted to see how we got on with them and follow our progress. Other commitments and financial reasons have stopped us developing into a larger stud but it shows the passive interest out there for farm related products. I also manage the page for my fathers work dog business. I have learned the skills through this to get well over 10, 000 views on a post with 5 minutes work. That is a very targeted market but an active farm that is showing the day to day life on the farm and offering in demand produce for sale could be grown quite quickly!
I also utilise facebook forum groups regularly to increase my knowledge and troubleshoot ideas I’m still learning about. These can be both a great learning resource and excellent networking.
You the farmer
How you propose to run the farm
As mentioned earlier I wish to run the farm with Biodynamic principles as much as possible. This will not be 100% as I believe we wont be able to grow enough seed ourselves but the principles used will benefit the soil and livestock.
I have been changing around practices on the farm currently, THE FARM, to make things run smoother and try and plan for all outcomes in advance. Ie crutching sheep before the have flies as a prevention. I intend to transfer these same practices.
Farm management experience?
I have been a manager of a property out of Hawker running 250 cows. I was also the sheep overseer for Willalooka Pastoral Company. We ran 10, 000 ewes and 2000 cows. I also had to oversee 3 station hands. I have also got experience as a woolclasser which is the shearing shed version of a supervisor and more recently taken over the big decision making on the family farm.
Connections to the local community?
I grew up in Orroroo and although moved away for a couple of years have since settled back here with my family. THE FARM portion of the proposal is our family farm, previously owned by my great grand father and the “THE NEARBY FARM” block was previously owned by my great uncle. I am the 6th generation in this district. My wife has been active in the community since moving here 6 years ago and we have no plans to go anywhere else.
Drive and initiative to develop this proposal – why you developed this and what is driving you to be a farmer
I have done a fair bit of ground work over the years working for other farmers around SA and northern NSW in various forms with view to taking over the family farm when the time came. The perfect time for that is now but it would be a marginal income at best on its own once all family members have been paid out. I would like to expand the farm to make it long term viable and circumstances led me to develop this proposal. Farming is my passion and I would love most of all to be able to put my experiences together to farm for myself.
Another major part of motivation is my family and kids. I want to be able to give my kids the experiences of growing up as part of a farming family. Being my own boss also gives me flexibility in my professional life to be able to make time for school events etc.
Outline why you are the best suited farmer for this property
Because of my vested interest in the land, personal experience and also access to the experience of previous generations and owners. I have also been involved in trialing different approaches to livestock and crop production on this exact land.
Why did you want this farm?
This farm development is the perfect coming together of what I have been working towards for some time. It plays to my strengths and is in an area of farming I am very familiar with.
How did you find this farm?
What checks and balances will you have in place to give confidence to the investors? i.e. advisors, regular reporting, regular meetings, business plans, decision making processes clarified
I am happy to negotiate any checks and balances that would give investors peace of mind. The bank requires financial statements, profit and loss statements etc at the end of financial year for a mortgage, so this would be a minimum standard I believe. Regular reporting of progress in general would likely be included.
As I have mentioned I would like to ideally find an investor who would be open to future projects or expansion so its imperative that investors be kept in the loop with full confidence.
Financial management skills
Years ago I have held some volunteer treasurer positions for local groups in Orroroo but the last few years my wife and I have done all the bookwork for the family farm. This is nearly identical to the type of financial management that will be required. I have also gained a good relationship with our accountant through working with them.
Animal husbandry skills
Animal husbandry has been a huge part of alot of my work with sheep and cattle. I would happily discuss further with an investor if desired. I would like to do training for pregnancy testing livestock, this would be a big asset for the farm breeding efficiency.
Risks and mitigation
Production (weather, pests, water)
The fodder system accounts for half of required feed limiting reliance on weather. The old man Saltbush are also excellent drought fodder, like “living haystacks”.
Price (exposure to price fluctuation)
I have budgeted much lower than current market values.
Extreme weather (fire, flood, drought)
As the properties are spread around a significant weather event would never effect the whole property. Giving us the flexibility to move them around.
Health (of farmers and workers)
I plan to train up a casual employee in case of illness so a flu doesn’t turn into dire straits. My wife and father can also do this type of work so can cover the load.
Financial (of investors, of farmers investment, of farm operations)
I will take a fair wage weekly to support myself and limited “bonus” at end of year so I am not over drawing. Within 5 years the investor will have returned enough to cover the capital expenses. At this stage the property and livestock could be sold to recoup any losses if something has gone monumentally wrong. This time will likely be shorter as improvements would have increased property values.
Strategic (that right decisions aren’t being made)
By using a fairly simple sheep farming system as the basis strategic decisions that don’t pan out will mean no premium but shouldn’t effect base income.
Business management (running the day to day, skills)
I currently make the major decisions on the family farm and do all the bookwork. It has included liasing with accountants and agents to make the best decisions.Utilising expect opinions I don’t believe my management to be a risk.
The proposal includes the minimal land we need for this project. Anything extra will be budgeted a little less intensively as time resources will be spread.
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