For Andrew Bouffler of Trigger Vale Sheep Stud in NSW one of his key KPIs would be to leave the little patch of dirt, that he and his family are custodians of, in a better state and we found it.
There are many levels to running a farm, but overriding everything else is knowing that is a privilege to have the right to be a custodian of a little part of this country.
But Andrew also knows that with that privilege doesn't stop with him and his wife Mandi. They want to make sure it's sustainable so that the next generation and the generations to come after them get to enjoy the great opportunities that they've had.
Working with mother nature is the key.
“Mother nature is a powerful beast and it’s better for your mental health and your business and everything else, if you decide to work with her. She wants trees, she wants clean waterways, she wants all these things and by working with her on that, we're going to hit the brief that we leave this land better than we found it.”
When he was in New York in the middle of Time Square many years ago, Andrew saw a picture of a mulesed lamb…on the other side of the world in one of the most densely populated sections of the planet. And he thought to himself ‘WOW…here's my backyard and my story being shown so publicly to just hundreds of thousands of people every day.
And so he and Mandi set about addressing this through changing the breed characteristics of their sheep flock. Introducing genetics (through breeding) into his flock that resulted in sheep with no skin wrinkles they were able to reduce the risk of ‘flystrike’ as the flies had no skin wrinkles to laying their eggs in.
The result…they ceased mulesing in 2006.
Ground cover in paddocks and pastures on farms like Trigger Vale, is just like mulch on your garden. Everybody knows the benefits:
When it rains, that dry organic matter vegetable layer in ground cover acts just like mulch, so you get full utilisation of that rainfall.
The more of that limited resource of rainfall that we get in Australia, the more we can protect that and utilise that if there is ground cover.
It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of having more dry matter, more for the sheep to eat, more for us to make a sustainable good business, but then still leaving remnant grass (ground cover) behind.
It's our responsibility to make sure it's in a better state than we found it.
Containment feeding is an interesting one.
Andrew likes to think of it from a human point of view. When we really want to treat ourselves we do things like going on cruise ships or to fancy resorts.
What happens there? The climate’s controlled, guests are all comfortable with a pool, drinks on tap that are brought you and delicious food nice and close so we don't have to move around too much.
Well, what we're talking about with containment feeding.
We put them into a great smaller paddock environment with good shelter, clean water and deliver food to them so they don't have to walk too far to get the nutrition they need.
Not only does this allow the team at Trigger Vale to feed pregnant ewes the best feed to ensure they are in the best shape to look after and feed their lamb, or lambs, but it also allows the other paddocks to 'rest' and pastures regrow - which is vital for healthy plants, healthy soils, healthy sheep, healthy us and healthy communities.