Paul and Kath O’Neill farm sheep and cattle on 140 hectares in Waratah North, in South Gippsland.
“We've been leasing the property for approximately 20 years and over this time have worked to create a sustainably managed and productive farm that has 16 hectares of shelter belts and protected remnant vegetation to provide sheltered living conditions for our animals.”
“Waterways on the farm have been fenced off and revegetated. In order to increase production we have undertaken extensive pasture and soil improvement works on the property: paddocks have been fenced into smaller sections to improve grazing rotations, whilst acid mat has been remediated by regular applications of lime.”
Paul is a keen surfer, so a good work-life balance is an important component of farm management.
The O’Neills farm sheep, running over 500 ewes. They supply around 600 lambs annually to local butchers and to the local community through word of mouth. The couple also farm cattle and supply beef to Gippsland Natural.
The O’Neills are passionate about producing delicious tasting meat and believe this is linked to good animal welfare and ensuring animals have a stress free life.
“To do this paddocks aren't overstocked and animals are kept in well-sheltered paddocks. Lambing has been recently moved to the late winter / early spring period to time feed demand with pasture growth. “
"We have been farming this property for over 20 years, always trying to farm as sustainably as possible, but we wanted to benchmark how we were tracking compared to best practice," said Paul.
"Being part of the Enviromeat EMS process was a great way of articulating and quantifying all the good work we do. We can now more clearly explain to our customers what we are doing right. Receiving a certification also gives our customers more confidence we are working to best practice.”
"As we lease most of our land, we are in a unique situation where we have to look very short term in our management to ensure that leasing the land is financially viable," said Paul.
"This was a great opportunity to look a little more longer term in our goals. We have learnt to look at the farm more holistically and understand that all of the parts are interrelated. I’ve also learnt to keep a better eye on what is going on around the farm and to be more alert with identifying animal welfare issues; for example if we need more shelter paddocks for lambing. It was also really helpful to learn from and connect with other people in the area."