Grazing Land Management

Central Victorian farms to open for GSSA conference tour

Sheep Central July 3, 2024

The Collins family — Andrew and Gretta with children Freddie, 4, and Violet, 2, — will open their farm at Bridgewater North.

CENTRAL Victorian farms will share the secrets to their successes and their plans for future growth during the upcoming Grassland Society of Southern Australia conference this month.

Glenroy Farming at Bridgewater North and Fucheng Sutton Grange south of Bendigo will host bus tours as part of the GSSA annual conference on July 17-18.

Glenroy Farming is a highly productive dual crop operation with a dryland and irrigated prime lamb enterprise, while Fucheng Sutton Grange is a cattle breeding and lamb production business.

Sixth-generation farmer Andrew Collins will show how the various grazing crops, lucerne, chicory, wheat, canola barley and ryegrass pastures are mixed and intertwined with the livestock business at Glenroy Farming.

The farm covers about 1300 hectares and runs about 2000 Merino ewes joined to Border Leicesters for first cross ewe production. The pasture mix is always changing but usually includes canola, barley, wheat, oats and been heavy on crop rotations.

“There’s nothing set in stone; just whatever we think is best at the time,” Andrew said.

This year the breakdown includes about 400 hectares of canola, 200 each of wheat and barley and some oaten hay. While some regions around Victoria have struggled, visitors to Andrew’s farm will see the positive outcomes of the season.

“We’ve been lucky to a point,” he said.

“We had an amazing January when we got a huge amount of rain, probably 10 inches which is unbelievable. Usually at that time of year we grow more weeds than anything, but this year we grew a fair bit of lucerne hay on the dryland so that was very productive.

“It hasn’t been too bad and we have our normal stocking rate,” Andrew said.

The farm has developed centre pivot irrigation in the past four years and is growing grazing crops that have drought-proofed the business.

“We devote about 120 hectares of irrigation to grazing canola or wheat,” Andrew said.

“That allows us to know we’ve got plenty of feed for this time of year when there can be a feed gap.”

Some of the Collins’ Glenroy Farming first cross ewes.

Phalaris and ryegrass varieties are under trial

Fucheng Sutton Grange is increasing cattle and sheep numbers introducing new and improved pastures. Along with new pasture mixes, the farm is home to two trial plots comparing the success of different phalaris and ryegrass varieties.

The 2225ha farm runs 673 Angus cows, about 3000 Merino ewes, 550 wether weaners and 550 ewe weaners.

Farm manager Charlie Dangerfield said the farm is in a rebuilding phase.

“This year we’re trying to boost numbers because we have a few older cows to cull and the previous manager ran lighter stocking numbers,” he said.

The corporate owners want to generate high profitability out of the land and their investments are showing their confidence in the state of the beef and sheep markets.

“It’s a three to five-year rebuild to get numbers to the optimal level and to improve some of our pastures to where we want them.”

They aim to have about 3500 ewes and 1000 wethers.

“The wethers will be a management tool for our pastures.

“We’ll get them in and they will be able to chew pasture out if we need to,” Charlie said.

“We’ll run them a bit harder than our ewes.”

Charlie said the mix of sheep and beef works well for the farm, which was a three-generation family Merino sheep stud and wool production business before its sale about eight years ago.

The farm has retained some old but good perennial pastures from its long family history, along with hilly native pasture paddocks.

Visitors to the farm will also see how drones are being used to tackle golden thistle in the hilly areas.

The conference will be based at All Seasons in Bendigo. To register, visit Grasslands Conference 17-18 July 2024 Bendigo, call 1300 137 550 or email [email protected].


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