Location: Between Collinsville and Bowen, 270km Southwest of Townsville, North Queensland
Property size: 13,800 hectares
Currently runs: 2100 LSU
Average annual rainfall: 700mm
Enterprise: Beef cattle breeding, growing/trading and agistment
Drivers of Success:
Ideas for future innovation:
RCS services used:
In 1865 James and Agnes Gordon left Ireland for a ship sailing out of Liverpool called The Maryborough, and stepped off three months later, halfway across the world in Bowen.
After finding their feet, the family settled on 13,800 hectare “Mount Pleasant”, between Bowen and Collinsville, in 1917 and, since that time, the property has been handed down over successive generations.
However, in the 2000s when ownership reached siblings Jamie and Joan, it became clear a change to the way the landscape was managed was needed.
The land was in ecological decline. Continuous use had resulted in overgrazed feed close to existing water points and underused and rank grass further out. The invasive Indian couch introduced to Australia in the 1930s had, in places, become a monoculture.
Jamie and wife Garlone set out on their own journey and attended GrazingforProfit® to hone their skills and find a better way of managing Mount Pleasant. One of the first insights they adopted was the power of rest.
“As soon as we started resting some country, the Indian couch monoculture began to shift,” Jamie said.
The Gordons began managing their livestock with a time-controlled grazing system, moving them regularly between paddocks in one mob to promote pasture utilisation and stimulate growth.
“We are repairing the damage caused by livestock with livestock,” Garlone said.
Jamie and Garlone continued their partnership with RCS, joining the ExecutiveLink® program, to help build a sustainable business with improved animal performance and carrying capacity, and increased biodiversity. The results have been both simply achieved and spectacular.
“Back in 2003 there is no way you would see a rufous bettong here,” Garlone said.
“There was no dung beetle activity. We haven’t done anything difficult or radical. This highlights what is possible with simple regenerative grazing management systems.”
One of the first steps of implementation was buying an energizer and a small amount of wire to trial time-controlled grazing on Mount Pleasant’s existing water points.
The couple noticed ecological change in these pastures convincing them to develop more of the property, leading to greater grass growth and healthier soil.
One of Jamie’s best diagnostic tools is his pocketknife, which he uses to dig into the top few centimetres of the soil to test its friability. Areas which once took a blade to break up can now be loosened with his fingers, with healthy grass growth also reducing runoff into a river catchment of the Great Barrier Reef
“There are no downsides to better grazing management that results in more topsoil remaining on your property,” Jamie said.
“It should be possible to operate a grazing business with no impact on the reef beyond natural processes. Build and keep your topsoil – for your own sake.”
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