O'Hares in good company at Beckom

SheepMaster added to hard-seeded legume base grazing

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Since their Farmer of the Year win in 2017, Velia and Mike O'Hare, Beckom, have introduced the SheepMaster sheep to their operation.

Since their Farmer of the Year win in 2017, Velia and Mike O'Hare, Beckom, have introduced the SheepMaster sheep to their operation.

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Biserrula, the hardy legume pasture that has done so much to boost this farm's production.

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With the NSW Farmer of the Year awards cancelled for 2020, The Land and The Farmer look back at the past decade of inspiring winners to see how they've adapted to current times, as well as what the competition has meant to them.

Mike and Velia O'Hare operate a 2200-hectare mixed farm at Beckom.

They produce canola, wheat and lamb in a rotational cropping and grazing system based upon nitrogen-fixing, hard-seeded pasture legumes, particularly biserrula.

"As well as promoting safe, sustainable, and profitable farming to the wider community, being part of Farmer of the Year gave us the opportunity to take a close look at our business through the eyes of others, and this presented the opportunity to learn from progressive farmers in various agricultural industries," Mr O'Hare said.

Mrs O'Hare also said one of the most satisfying aspects of winning the award was the further opportunity to spread the word on biserrula - the hardy legume pasture that has done so much to boost their farm's production.

"Even more rewarding are the occasional calls from growers who've given it a go and are very pleased with the results," she said.

Since the O'Hare's win, the duo has made a substantial change to their sheep enterprise with the introduction of SheepMaster genetics.

"SheepMaster are a relatively new, 100 per cent shedding, high fertility, meat sheep with good feet and leg structure," explains Mr O'Hare.

"Their introduction is improving our lamb production efficiency and we have since become part of the National SheepMaster Stud Breeders."

However, with the intensifying drought, the couple joke that they soon went from 'Farmer of the Year' to 'Failure of the Year'.

"It was a case of battening down the hatches with a reduction in the cropped area, a rare alteration to the crop rotation, a reduction in ewe numbers, ewes in confinement lots, finishing lambs in a feedlot, and a general reduction in operating expenses until the drought broke earlier this year," Mr O'Hare said.

"And although COVID-19 is doing its best to disrupt our markets and supply chains and create general uncertainty, from a day-to-day aspect, little has changed.

"Farmers do isolation well, and the restrictions imposed remind us how lucky we are to be on the farm and how fortunate we are to enjoy each other's company."

Also read:

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Adjusting to COVID labour shortages at Cowra

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