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ARTICLES >> People Articles

Breeding Leadership Opportunities for Young Pastoralist

Posted by Bestprac on Aug 05 2012

by Liz Guerin

It has been a busy and challenging twelve months for young Windorah pastoralist, Andrew Miller and his family. Having both worked on and managed many properties during the last 12 years, when the opportunity to lease 29 000 hectare Coniston station came up, the Millers’ jumped at the chance. 

Andrew Miller the newest member of the Producer Advisory PanelNow in the process of building sheep numbers up on the property, 27 year old Andrew was also selected to participate in the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) Breeding Leadership Course and also be part of the Bestprac Producer Advisory Panel.

On first glance it might seem like a stretch for a man, who grew up on a pineapple farm on the Sunshine Coast, to be starting out as a pastoralist, but with his grandparents originally hailing from the area and a passion for livestock and the land, Andrew and his young family wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Being out in the bush has been our lives for the last 12 years and whilst it is isolated, we like it that way,” he said. “We like our space, our privacy, and our own company. Even though we are young to be on a property in the Windorah area, we have children of a similar age to older families around and that closes the gap a bit.”

The station is currently running 800 self replacing merinos and 1300 cattle. Andrew says in the next 5 years he wants to build sheep numbers up to 3000 ewes, increase their focus on wool and decrease cattle numbers to a mob of 500 Droughtmaster cows and 300 steers. They also aim to better utilise parts of the property, such as their river areas.

“We have a passion for sheep, and we feel that they will be more profitable to us,” he said. “We are looking around for other mobs to buy but, due to our limited budget, we have to be choosy in terms of looking for the right sized mob, the right age and the right distance away. In the mean time we plan to join our ewes three times in two years in an effort to boost our sheep numbers.”

With encouragement from wife Megan, Andrew was selected to participate in the AWI Breeding Leadership program – a professional development course for young wool growers from around Australia, held in March this year. The course, designed to foster the next generation of leaders within the wool industry, covered areas such as marketing, leading and managing people, corporate governance, succession planning, time management and strategic planning.

Andrew said that the four day course was a real ‘eye-opener’ and for him has been incredibly valuable, not only in terms of identifying areas of his business that need focus and adjustment, but also in bringing to light things he never knew could or should be part of his business.

“Until you go to a course like this, you don’t realise what you don’t know! Not only from a business and professional perspective, but personally too,” Andrew said. “Things I previously thought I was good at, like prioritising and time management, I learnt so much more about and realised there was still room for improvement. I just learnt so much and my head spun most of the time.”

With so much to take in, Andrew says that it was also good to talk with people from other areas running more intensive operations.

Andrew Miller with his young familyAndrew sees being part of the Bestprac Producer Advisory Panel as a good way to keep in touch with new information and an opportunity to keep all the things learnt, as part of the Breeding Leadership course, fresh in his mind.

“It would be so easy to go to courses and learn new information, get all excited and then come back to the same old routine and let it all slide away.” he said. “I really want to keep focussing on that and make sure that it stays part of my decision making. This is one way I can make sure I keep up to date, make the right business decisions and plans, whilst at the same time giving back to the industry.”

Andrew is positive about this season and the future in general.

“Our ewes are lambing at the moment and things are going well.” he said. “We consider ourselves very lucky to have the opportunities we have. We have a passion for the land and that is driving us forward.” 

Last changed: Aug 07 2012

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