The view from our verandah: Stuart and Gemma Green

30 October 2015

NSW producers Stuart and Gemma Green are focused on building their family enterprise, Chesney Pastoral, into a business which inspires perpetual success, creates win-win relationships and promotes prosperity within their community.

In this series where producers share their current challenges and the strategies to manage and grow their business, the Greens share their vision for their business, what’s on their job list for this month and how their pastures are performing.

What is your production focus at Chesney Pastoral?

We run a terminal first-cross ewe flock turning off lambs at 22kg carcase weight, a self-replacing Angus herd to produce feeder steers and MSA heifers and a cattle trading business on 2,000ha at Mandurama, 40km south of Orange in NSW.

What inspires your business vision?

We undertook business coaching, which made us question what we wanted our business to do for us. We are passionate about agriculture and the opportunities it offers us as an enterprise and as a family. Being able to draw a line between our business and personal lives allows us to have the lifestyle we choose as well as a profitable business. In line with the vision we have created for Chesney Pastoral, our business plan is founded on core values such as integrity, respect, creativity and ethics.

Resilience is also part of your business plan – what does this mean?

To us, resilience is the next step from sustainability. It is the ability of a system to return to normal after a traumatic event, such as drought, more quickly.

How have you structured your business to be resilient?

We expect our improved pastures to last indefinitely so we focus on total grazing management for persistency of pasture quality and quantity. We are prepared to forgo short term production goals in order to reach our long term goals of having resilient, productive pastures. We monitor soil health, pH and fertility and adjust grazing at specific times of the year depending on pasture requirements.

Our different categories of livestock – sheep and cattle, breeding and trading livestock – gives us the ability to use each animal species or class to manipulate pastures to achieve our end goals.

We also objectively analyse and challenge our enterprise through goal setting and benchmarking. We use our accountants, business coach and other advisors to hold a mirror up to our business and help us set our strategic direction.

What lessons have you learned along the way?

The biggest challenge was changing how we thought about our business. This is where creating a vision for Chesney Pastoral has been empowering. This is not often done in farming businesses, but it gave us a clear focus about what we are choosing to do, and why.

How is the season looking?

It is shaping up to be a good season, 100mm in August was the best start to spring we have had for several years.

What is happening on-farm this month?

We are focusing on our prime lamb enterprise as we wean in October and sell through to December. Lambing percentage is a profit driver and we expect 150% lambing.

We buy replacement first-cross ewes and cross them with White Suffolk and Dorset rams, so all the second-cross lambs are sold as heavy trade weight lambs. We send them direct to works or to local markets. We weigh, drench and assess lambs, then split them into weight categories to match their feed requirements. This allows us to match the best quality feed with the top lambs to meet their performance criteria.

How do you manage pastures this time of year?

Our DSE/ha varies based on pasture type and season – the process of matching class of animal to feed available is an ongoing process of assessing and revaluating throughout the season. All our pastures are improved, but around 10% are high performance (a mix of lucerne, chicory, plantain, clovers, rye grass, cocksfoot and phalaris). These pastures are fenced into smaller paddocks (average 10ha) so we can manage them more intensively over the next few months to meet production targets. For example, at this time of year we expect lambs to have 300-350g/day weight gains on our high performance pastures.

More information

Stuart and Gemma Green E: stugreen@tpg.com.au

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