Holistic grazing at Scone

Holistic grazing opportunity in the Upper Hunter

Property
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A scaling-down process now under way in the Upper Hunter has resulted in a rich entry opportunity for an investor seeking reliable cattle country in one of the state's premier breeding areas.

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A scaling-down process now under way in the Upper Hunter has resulted in a rich entry opportunity for an investor seeking reliable cattle country in one of the state's premier breeding areas.

Gibbergunyah is a property of 1350 hectares (3336ac) which now forms the southern section of the much larger (4450ha) aggregation called Inverary, owned by retired businessman Tom Johnston.

The aggregation has been built up over the past six years, involving six individual land packages (including former soldier settler blocks), to create a breeding-ground in normal seasons for 1600 Angus cows.

Mr Johnston, who lives in Sydney but spends a lot of his time in the Upper Hunter (where he previously operated the Merric Angus stud at Gundy), is now ready to start winding back his holdings.

He has hived off Gibbergunyah as a separate, self-contained land package and listed it for sale with Sydney-based Meares and Associates and MacCallum Inglis of Scone.

It is being marketed by expressions of interest closing on July 25, with expectations of a sale being made within a range of $5-$5.25 million.

Situated 23 kilometres north-west of Scone in the Dartbrook-Kars Springs area, Gibbergunyah is a well-improved grazing property with estimated carrying capacity of 10,000 DSEs, or 500 cows.

Ranging from gently undulating to hilly country of dark chocolate basalt, with fertile plateaus and sheltered valleys, the property is cleared except for shade and shelter trees.

Pastures are predominantly native grasses and clovers, with an area of 135ha sown in March to a high-performance pasture mix of chicory, plantain, vetch, phalaris, cocksfoot, clovers and lucerne.

The key to the property's productivity has been its holistic management system. Cows are moved after short grazing spells through a network of paddocks in large mobs (up to 1000 head).

With some 50 paddocks in use across the whole aggregation, cattle graze each area for just one or two days before being moved on, giving the country a recovery spell of up to 70 days.

Numbers across the aggregation have been reduced because of drought to about 700 Angus breeders, but following useful autumn rains Gibbergunyah is now carrying a good body of feed.

Since putting together the aggregation, Mr Johnston with his manager Tom Hunt has focused on upgrading the infrastructure to enhance the property's productivity and ease of management.

This has included significant investment in new fencing, water reticulation, cattle handing facilities and accommodation.

Average rainfall is 685mm and Gibbergunyah is watered by four equipped bores supplying eight new tanks which reticulate to 39 troughs. There is also double frontage to a spring-fed creek.

The property is subdivided into 16 main paddocks and incorporates some 14km of new fencing.

Working improvements are appropriate to the scale of the operation and include two sets of steel cattle yards (one with covered work area), and machinery and hay sheds.

Both the three-bedroom main homestead (originally the Dunover homestead) and four-bedroom manager's residence (each at differene ends of the property) have been renovated in recent years.

The Dunover homestead comes with ducted air conditioning, open-plan layout, and a wrap-around verandah.

By PETER AUSTIN.

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