Next Gens Farm Visit – Mill Farm, Hagley

Owners and operators:  Greg & Sarah Gibson

Presenters at the visit:  Greg Gibson

Property details:
Total area 700 ha over two farms (Hagley & Bishopsbourne) approximately 10 km apart.
Average annual rainfall, 700mm

  • Soils, Cressy loam, Duplex (sandy loam over subsoil clay), some black cracking clay to the surface
    Water resources for irrigation:  total 1,260 ML
    Farm dam storage 600ML, allocations from Meander Dam scheme 350 ML, Cressy Scheme
  • 160ML, Tas Irrigation Bishopsbourne scheme 150ML
  • Linears (4), centre pivots (5), hard Hose irrigators (3)

Labour; Owner plus 2.5 Full Time Equivalents on the farm, 3 FTE on contacting work.

Irrigated crops, wheat, canola, poppies, peas, green beans, onions (land leased to a grower), potatoes, grass seed, white clover seed, carrot seed.  Most cash crops grown for contracted supply.

Fattening lambs, 8-10,000 per year (some forward contracted), on irrigated & dryland pastures and crop residues and irrigated fodders (including white clover pastures after seed harvest)

Contracting with machinery; drainage works and cultivation

SWOT assessment:

  • Diversified enterprises ; good for risk management, but makes management more complex.
  • Good staff
  • Soils, rainfall & climate favourable
  • Water for irrigation reliable and good quality
  • Close to markets and facilities (including expertise (agronomists etc).
  • Good management team – agronomist, bank manager, accountant etc


  • Owner/manager does not spend enough time in the office (working on the business)
  • Owner/manager – ambition exceeds ability
  • Owner/managed – finds time management difficult
  • Diversity of crops
  • Water-logging of soils


  • Consolidate crops, reduce diversity
  • Marketing – but…
  • New crops
  • Better management of soil health; explore use of bio-fumigants
  • Further automate irrigation; use Variable Rate Irrigation
  • Improve timeliness in cropping operations


All lambs shipped to Victoria – dependent on shipping

Costs of Production – continual pressure to maintain margins

Labour  – difficult to find and retain people, particularly due to the complexity of the business.  Casuals hard to find.


Next Gens Farm Visit – Landfall Angus, Launceston

Owners and operators:  Frank & Ed Archer

Presenters at the visit:  Frank Archer

Property details:
Total area 3.000 ha over two farms (Landfall & Greenhythe) approximately 25 km apart.  Approximately 2,500 ha pastured.
Average annual rainfall, 700-750mm

Water resources for irrigation:  total 1,700 ML storage of winter catchment runoff
Centre pivots, 4 covering 250 ha), hard Hose irrigators irrigating 60 ha.
Labour; Owners plus 4 Full Time Equivalents on the farm, 0.5 FTE administration, 0.5 FTE casual workers.

Family succession issues – has been a 10-year plan

Fran & Ed have 3 non-farming siblings who were provided with financial assistance – early inheritance strategy.  Frank & Ed farm in partnership and lease the farming assets from their parents with the lease fee providing income for the parents.  This will eventually provide their parents with sufficient assets to be financially independent.  Farther (Gerald) works on the farm and receives a salary.

Seedstock, Angus bulls (70% of the business, producing for sale 550 bulls each year, from a herd of 1,500 cows.  Angus herd represents 70% of the Dry Sheep Equivalents.
Prime lambs from Composite ewe flock of 4,000 (30% of the DSE).

Stock are grazed on dryland and irrigated pastures, and fodder crops.  Grazing is intensively managed; particularly with smaller mobs of bulls and frequent rotation of paddocks particularly to avoid pugging and sol and pasture damage in wet winters.  The average mid-winter stocking rate is 16 DSE/ha (property range 2-50dse/ha).  Irrigated pastures carry an average stocking rate of 25 DSE/ha year round.

No cash crops; Angus beef seed stock provide better opportunities for growing the business, easier to manage and the preferred enterprise for the managers.

Artificial breeding is important; AI conception rates 60-70%; with embryo transfer to around 450 recipient cows each year.  Embryos are flushed from the best 2% of cows and implanted in bottom 20% of cows.

Bulls are sold at auction on farm (50%), remainder for private sale.  Around 75% are sold to Tasmanian buyers.  All bulls are sold with objective performance records (EBVs – Expected Breeding Values) and there is a strong correlation between EBV indexes and sale price.

Management issues and concerns:

The business assets in order of priority are:

  • People: management mistakes can have serios and long-term consequences
  • Livestock: management mistakes can be rectified
  • Land: management mistakes most easily remedied.

Concerns for the future:

  • Production system sustainability – pasture and soil damage in winter; irrigated areas do not have opportunity to dry out (minimised in exceptionally wet seasons by 12 hourly grazing shifts).
  • Beef industry and reliance on 2 major abattoirs in Tasmania. And concerns about social acceptance of meat farming.
  • Government regulation and administrative requirements.

Frank and Ed do not worry about debt (at the current time).

The future

Frank aims for his children to work off farm after completing formal education; then decide whether they wish to come back to the farm

Issues to explore

Generational transfer – process and outcomes

Real estate value of land v agricultural value

Beef seed stock enterprise v commercial beef production

Peri- urban issues

Business threats and opportunities

Social licence for continued beef production


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