Ardcairnie cows and calves 2016

News from Ardcairnie Angus Sunday 16th September 2019


An inquiry by email about how we do what we do resulted in Jim putting pen to paper:  We regard ourselves as grass farmers; we try to follow the principles of Holistic Management and have found their planned grazing principles probably the most powerful tool we have experienced in our farming life.


We use beef cattle as the way to package our pastures into a form we can market, and have over the years moved that to a largely stud (Ardcairnie

Angus) operation.  Our farming system would be regarded as ‘regenerative’ these days but we have been using this concept for over twenty years.

We have come to understand that much of conventional farming practices can have a negative effect on what benefits nature can provide for us, so

we try to enhance what nature can do wherever we can.  We also use AMF fertilisers strategically with the aim of increasing the nutrient inventory of our soils where we feel there is a need.  We also brew up some shuttles of beneficial anaerobic bugs as a way to increase the biodiversity of the soil organisms and have been using Biodynamic Preparations for the last four years.


We have put the production of our own biodynamic preps into the too hard basket because of the workload we have, and source them from Biodynamic Agriculture Australia (BAA = News Leaf).  Our guide in this venture is Deanna Forster from Denmark who organises the supply of products we need.  A friend from Kendenup has the flow forms and spraying equipment and he comes up in Autumn and Spring to apply the preps.


We have the impression that the BD preps are contributing to the overall soil and animal health of the farm as part of our integrated approach.  We don’t try and cover every part of the farm with the sprays - we cover our 3,600 acres with three tanks of sprays so we are basically distributing the ‘essence’ of the preps over a large area.  BD techniques are constantly evolving and are a good fit in the overall toolbox for the regenerative farmer.


Maybenup Mobs at 16th September 2019

  • Seven mobs of mixed age cows and calves each with a (hopefully hard-working) bull
  • One mob of P (2018 born) heifers, hopefully pregnant
  • One small mob of spare herd bulls, including the three from the heifer paddocks relaxing after their nine weeks work
  • One mob of six N (born 2017) bulls (the still for sale mob)
  • One mob of P (born 2018) weaned bull calves (next year’s potential sale and keeper bulls)



August brought 76mms at the south end and 60.25 at the north end, continuing the patchy falls in recent years.  More falls are needed to fill the dams for summer stock water.


Some happenings on Maybenup since 11th September 2019


Interim results from the TSUs have been received (sooner than expected) with six animals needing re-sampling for one test to be repeated.

Water supplies: with the continuing concern about whether dams will fill this month, we sold some cull animals for meat; pregnancy testing for the P heifers on 11th October will see any empty ones sold as well as surplus PTIC heifers as soon as we can.  We are also looking at ways to add to our water supplies with one cased and powered bore not yet connected to a dam – that’s a job for this month.

Heifer mating finished yesterday so the heifers are all in one mob again and the bulls relaxing in the bull paddock after their nine weeks of work which hopefully will result in lots of calves next year.

Clinical Prac: one returning vet student stayed for two weeks while undertaking clinical prac with our vet Dr Kate Clayton who runs surgeries in Katanning as well as Kojonup.  It’s always good to catch up with students who have been here for farm prac a couple of years along their study journey.

On the home front, we’ve had a lovely visit from a bagpiping friend of Jim’s who played his pipes every morning – just made us feel like Royalty!  He’s heading for a bagpiping festival in Brittany, France after this visit to WA.  We’ve had folk pop in just helping that life balance between work and play on track.  A few hours in Bunbury at the FarmWest Discovery Day meant catching up with other cattle folk and hearing some great speakers, including chef Adrian Richardson from Melbourne about cooking the perfect steak – room temperature; keep turning every minute or so to retain the juiciness of the meat; remove when cooked to your liking and rest for a few minutes before eating.

WA celebrations: As it’s the centenary of the Angus Society of Australia this year, the WA Committee elected a sub-committee to organise the celebration in Gingin on Friday 13th September.  The day started off in the cattle yards looking at cattle several producers had brought to Gingin and listening to two excellent presentations by David Roe of Benalong Angus at Gingin and Peter Collins of Merridale Angus, Victoria who both clearly defined what good structure is on some of the animals.  Then Drs Enoch Berman of Esperance and Matt Carrick from Dongara discussed various cattle diseases and some options for prevention and treatment.  Down to the Recreation Centre for a beautiful beef and salad lunch with four speakers – John Young of Strathtay Stud at Narrogin on the history of Angus cattle in WA, then Brad Gilmour, President and Peter Parnell CEO of Angus Australia, with Caris Jones from MLA finishing the formal part of the day with information about what the MLA is doing for cattle research.  WA Food Ambassador Don Hancey delighted the gathering with his experiences in cooking beef.  An informal evening at The Vines before the Regional Forum next morning when Diana Wood, Marketing Manager, Andrew Byrne and Matt Reynolds from Breed Development in Angus Australia gave lots of valuable information on developments in the technical side of breeding.  All in all, a very worthwhile couple of days.

Special Magazine:   a special edition of the WA Angus Newsletter was launched during the Friday afternoon containing advertisements from studs (which covered the cost) and lots of stories about past and present breeders.

Angus Cook Book: in 1997, breeders from around Australia put together a cookery book with recipes (with recipes covering lots more than beef). John Young suggested that that book could be reprinted as part of the Centenary Celebrations, a few phone calls to the original printers in Albany made it happen, so if you are looking for a great Christmas gift, they should be available during the Royal Show – check in the cattle lanes and ask an Angus breeder.  If that fails, contact Pam on 0417 942 326 and she can send you one.  $10 picked up, $15 posted.  Some great recipes.



You can download selected past newsletters in PDF format here:

March Matters 2018

October Observations 2015

December Development 2014

2014 October Oddments

2013 November Narrations

2013 September Scribbles

2013 May Meanderings newsletter


Archived news stories can be found on the Archives page and archived newsletters are on the Archived Newsletters page.


Website Copyright Ardcairnie Angus | Updated 16 September 2019