Island’s beef pipeline

It’s the beef pipeline for Flinders Island surfer


Farming may have been in his blood, but Chris MacQueen thought surfing was more his style.


Farming may have been in his blood, but Chris MacQueen thought surfing was more his style.

Luckily he has been able to combine both as a beef farmer at Skyhaven Farm on Flinders Island.

Mr MacQueen has transitioned from working with his father on his Merino property to running his own 930-hectare beef operation with his wife Rachel and three boys on the central and west coasts of Flinders Island.

It requires military organisation - Chris MacQueen

“I dodged it for a few years and went travelling. When I was 25 I went back to Flinders and took a job on the farm,” he said.

“I knew I couldn’t handle 9-5 work and couldn’t handle a boss so this was a job where I could be my own boss and choose my own hours. It was the lifestyle.

“I had a bit of a point to prove because I was a bit of a joke but once I got the bug I really wanted to go for it.”

When he first started out Mr MacQueen said he visited many farms and watched what others were doing and what was making money.

Skyhaven Farm usually stocked about 950 cows, but now has 1800 head in four mobs.

“I have mobs of about 250 and continually rotate every second or third day,” Mr MacQueen said.

Asked how he dealt with the pressures of high stocking rates, no fodder and not being able to get cattle off Flinders Island, Mr MacQueen said he does “stress a bit, but I’m always planning ahead and feed budgeting. I’m always monitoring”.

“You can’t ship cattle off island or bring in fodder quickly when you are running such large herds,” he said. "It requires military organisation and speedy decision making to adapt to these challenges”.

There used to be around 160 farms on the island. With amalgamations, it is down to about 40.

Mr MacQueen sources all of his bulls from Landfall Angus in Tasmania.

He identified the need to get bigger and boost productivity at Skyhaven Farm.

“We put ourselves out there to do what we’re doing but I feel really comfortable in the model we’ve got,” he said.

He had a focus on using fertiliser, making decisions at the right time, like destocking when you have to and to stop worrying about getting steers to a certain weight.

“Rotation grazing allows planning months in advance,” he said.

"It also means I know exactly what’s going to come on and when it’s going to come on.

“I very rarely feed hay and I don’t cut any hay.”


From the front page

Sponsored by