Location: St Lawrence, 185km North of Rockhampton, Central QLD
Property size: 12,000 hectares
Currently runs: 5,000 LSU
Average annual rainfall: 1050mm
Enterprise: Beef cattle agistment, breeding and growing
Drivers of Success:
Ideas for future innovation:
Rob and Ainsley McArthur firmly believe that ecological sustainability is the underpinning factor for success in agriculture. It’s a claim they can back up with evidence, having transformed their farm, Mystery Park, since they took ownership of it in 2003. Once a small, ecologically declining operation, the land they call home with their six children has evolved into a thriving business with an ever-improving ecosystem.
Before Rob and Ainsley’s management, Mystery Park was a smaller aggregation with a total area of 1,600 hectares running approximately 700 LSU’s (Large Stock Units) managed under a continuous grazing system. Rob and Ainsley observed that ecological health was declining. The operation was profitable, however, the business model did not meet the needs of the stakeholders or match Rob and Ainsley’s vision.
After struggling to find the knowledge they needed to achieve the business and ecosystem they desired, Rob and Ainsley decided to further their studies. This prompted them to complete GrazingforProfit® together in 2002. Over the years, they observed the more knowledge they had, the more momentum they gained in their business. The McArthurs have since completed RCS’s three-year ExecutiveLink® program and have hosted several RCS Keep In Touch (KIT) Days, soil health field days and horsemanship clinics. According to the McArthurs, their confidence in making strategic business decisions, setting goals and developing a vision is thanks to their continued learning and connection to the agriculture community.
Rob and Ainsley breed and grow beef cattle on their land, with their herd consisting mainly of Brahman crossbred cows joined to Angus and Belmont x Angus bulls. These enterprises have been selected based on gross margin analyses and the need to spread risk throughout the business. The changes they’ve implemented since 2003 include;
Rob and Ainsley have seen an incredible business transformation, expanding their original operation of 1,600 hectares running 700 LSU, to 12,000 hectares running 5,000 LSU.
Simultaneously they have improved the health and quality of the grass and ecosystem. In some areas, the carrying capacity at Mystery Park since 2005 has more than doubled – from 8 SDH/100mm to sustainably maintaining 22 SDH/100mm, significantly increasing their beef production per hectare. “We are running more cattle than we ever have, yet our grass bank is not diminishing,” Ainsley states.
Since implementing the rotational and time-controlled grazing program, Rob and Ainsley have observed significant ecological changes including:
To implement sustainable ecological management, the McArthurs believe the first step is to acquire knowledge. Looking ahead, innovations that could make a big difference at Mystery Park include:
An inspiring characteristic of the McArthur family is their remarkable attitude. Ainsley regularly updates her blog ‘From the Veranda‘ to give insight into the day-to-day lives running a sustainable rural business. This willingness to be transparent is inspiring and critical to the future of the industry. According to Rob “it’s not about the business or situation, it’s about you and your attitude.”
Join our mailing list