Learning about Holistic Management has led to the Murphy family dramatically changing their cattle operations  at Tabletop Station, Collinsville.

Holistic Management is a goal-driven management and decision-making process that considers how everything is interconnected, and the financial, environmental, and social impacts of decisions prior to implementation. This helps graziers to improve their performance, and implement practical, cost-effective and innovative solutions to land management and restoration issues.

The process starts with developing a farm or family goal (a Holistic Context) that represents shared values and a clear vision of the future. A Holistic Context defines the quality of life desired and how to achieve it, and identifies what the land and surrounding community must be like to sustain this life, while protecting and restoring the natural resource base that sustains it.

Tom and Karen Murphy, daughter Nikki and partner Harry Howard, operate the 18,970ha station and recently completed an 18-month Holistic Management programme, supported by NQ Dry Tropics as part of its Building Resilience in The Burdekin Grazing Industry project.

As a result, they use their Holistic Context to frame their decision making process.

“Every family member involved in the business got together to review all aspects of the operation, and come up with some goals for the future,”  said Tom.

The Murphys use Tabletop as a breeder block, running Brahman-cross cows with Droughtmaster and Red Poll bulls. Replacement heifers are kept, with cull heifers and all steers transferred to the 4,500ha Moranbah property, Tomaren Station, which is managed by son-in-law and daughter Percy and Stacey Large.

After conducting their review, the Murphys decided to rationalise their operation and recently sold their fattening block to concentrate on the feeder and live cattle markets. The last of the bullocks will be consigned to the Dinmore beef processing plant later in the year.

The family redeveloped Tomaren Station, originally a mainly brigalow block with some ironbark, box and Bendee,  to implement a planned grazing programme for the young cattle trucked in from Tabletop. They established a  laneway across the property, connected to nine fenced paddocks approximately 200ha each,  to allow easy movement of cattle. This has saved mustering time and costs.

The extra paddocks, will allow them to better utilise the buffel and seca dominated pastures. They also upgraded the watering system so that a single mob can water at troughs located at each of the laneway gates, to ensure that walking distances are minimised. The troughs are supplied from turkey’s nests with 63mm delivery capacity.

“I have found that the cattle quickly work out that they will always get water, and will wait patiently for their turn at the trough,” said Tom.

Both steers and cull heifers are targeted for growing out to 350-400kg for the feedlot market or boat trade. The planned grazing programme aims to get them to target weights earlier, but is also aimed at improving the quantity and quality of pasture and to build up soil health.

NQ Dry Tropics supported the Murphys, through the services of accredited Holistic Management trainers, to guide them as they developed the planned grazing programme and comprehensive property plans based on the Holistic Management approach.

The Building Resilience in the Burdekin Grazing Industry project, funded through the Queensland Government Regional NRM Investment Programme, aims to improve the economic, social and productive resilience of properties in the Burdekin region.

Photo by Melissa Cormack and reproduced with permission.