Sutherland - An Overview
Geographic location: 120 km NW of Richmond in NW QLD
Sutherland is owned and operated as a family business with a strong focus on surrounding ourselves with people who are committed to a career on the land and encouraging in our children a love of the land and the animals that are a part of our business.
We have 3 children… Nikko, Zara and Alexandra.
Our business is made up of a number of properties:
- Sutherland: 29,100Ha
- East Creek: 43,512Ha
- Camroo, Tambo: 9,716Ha
- New Water: 26,900Ha
Ardie and Kacie have a 40% share in the Lord & Penna Partnership (LPP) which owns Woolthorpe (45,748Ha) at Aramac and Bayrick (14,574Ha) at Tambo, and is managed and operated by Linda and Gerard Penna who live at Woolthorpe. LPP runs approximately 35,000 sheep and 6,000 head of cattle.
A. Grass Production
B. Cattle (9,000hd)
C. Sheep (100hd)
D. Hay production (between 15-30,000 bales per annum)
A. Grass Production
Sutherland comprises 7,727 ha of forest country - i.e. sandy bauhinia / flooded gidyea country which has been pulled and sown to buffel. 12 years ago we put in a grazing system called “cell grazing “on this part of Sutherland. Cell grazing is an intensive system of rotational grazing utilizing the tools of “stock density, feed utilization and rest “to enhance natural eco systems". We have a mob of up to 1,200 hd in a paddock of roughly 200 ha. These cattle are moved every 3 to 4 days, depending on feed availability etc.
Another 16,000 ha of open Mitchell grass downs country is divided up into 250 ha paddocks and we use rotational grazing on these paddocks.
All water in the above areas is delivered through troughs and supplements are delivered into the troughs via water medication units.
The last 6,000 ha are also open Mitchell grass downs country, divided into 3 paddocks and watered by a flowing bore.
The herd is a Brahman cross herd. We focus on speed of production, adaptability and temperament.
We run a 2,000 hd breeder herd on East Creek, 120km north of Sutherland. We also run a 1,000 hd breeder herd on Sutherland and at New Water, 186km north/east of Sutherland we run a 1,500 hd breeder herd. All weaners come back to Sutherland are fed in the weaner facility for 3 to 4 days during which time they are broken in to dogs and taught to come off pressure and generally quietened. The mickey portion of the weaners is kept here for up to 3 months then sent off on agistment. We are basically nomadic with our mickey herd, going wherever the grass is.
First and second calf heifers are kept here. Once they are proven breeders, i.e. must have reared a live calf by their 3rd birthday, they are sent to East Creek or New Water.
Pregnancy testing is a regularly used management tool. All weaner mickeys are compudosed before going away on agistment, bulls are given singvac and a dose of vibrio, and all breeders are singvaced annually.
Maremma Guard dogs are used to protect calves from wild dogs.
Since the formation of Lord and Penna we have sold all of our sheep. The only sheep remaining at Sutherland are 100 head which are used for eating and training our kelpies. The Lord and Penna business is focused on sheep and wool production.
D. Hay Production
Depending on the wet season we produce between 20-30,000 round bales of naturally grown flinders grass hay. This is done by a local contractor and staff employed to stack the hay and load it onto trucks.
All mustering is done on motorbikes; quietly and slowly with the expectation of causing as little stress to animals and people as possible. Our primary aim is that any contact with animals is to be done with respect for them and that the “low stress stock“ handling principles be applied at all times.
The most important aspect of Sutherland is the people we work with. We spend more time with the people we work with than we do with our friends so to us it makes sense to surround ourselves with people whose company we enjoy. We have tried to create an environment where people care and show respect for each other and where conflict, should it arise, is dealt with in an adult manner.
We run Sutherland in a Team Management style, with everyone attending the weekly meetings. Everyone is encouraged to come to these meetings with an agenda of items that they would like discussed at the meeting, jobs they feel need doing or social events that they may need time off for. If we all practice open honest adult communication we are many steps closer to achieving our vision of a happy and productive life at Sutherland.
It is important to us that people have personal goals and that coming to Sutherland is going to help them achieve those goals. We have a great deal to offer here, from a very high level herd management programme, to pasture management, to learning to work effectively as a team. However we can only create an environment… it is the personal responsibility of each person to make the very best of all Sutherland has to offer.
We try to provide a learning environment at Sutherland where all individuals can develop skills to achieve key outcomes for themselves and Sutherland. Outside training that adheres to management is also encouraged and delivered. ***
We have a family house, which houses the Manager, a couple's house and single accommodation.
We have a farm safety programme in place and on your arrival we will take you through all our "safety expectations” but any programme is only as good as the people who implement it. Thinking safely must become a part of our everyday lives. Sunscreen, goggles, helmets, gloves etc will all be provided. It is your choice to use them or not. Every vehicle must carry water (everyone here uses back packs for carrying water when mustering.)
At no time is any one to leave the compound without letting someone know where they are going and if you are working by yourself you must ensure that the 2-way in the vehicle is working or take a radio with you. We are very happy to discuss any new safety measures you think may enhance our existing safety program.
Having now set up a fairly productive system here our greatest challenge is to find the right people to run the system.
Ardie and Kacie both want to continue living at Sutherland but want to step back to more strategic roles instead of the very “hands on” roles we have at present.