Dunkeld Pastoral Co Pty Ltd

Dunkeld Pastoral Co Pty Ltd was established in 1976 by the Myers family to own and operate a group of pastoral properties in the vicinity of Dunkeld, Western Victoria.

Their first farm property in the region, “Yasme”, remains part of the current operations, which now include a number of historic western Victorian properties, such as “Mt Sturgeon” and “Blackwood”, each home to grand old bluestone homesteads and woolsheds.  A number of smaller soldier settlement era farms are also part of Dunkeld Pastoral, and tell a different story of Australia’s farming history.

The Myers family has a long history in the region, having been in Dunkeld since at least 1849, with the family engaged in a range of rural occupations including horse breaker, bullocky, shearer, labourer, and a more recent history of owning the local butcher store. 

Today, the team at Dunkeld Pastoral are dedicated to conservation and land management, with all farm operations being carried out in accordance with the Dunkeld Pastoral Land Management Strategy.  The business manages various conservation activities and initiatives, supporting a long-term commitment to enhancing the natural environment within and around the properties. 

Dunkeld Pastoral employs four Farm Managers and a full-time Conservation Manager, together with eight Farm Hands and a Conservation Officer who all young, enthusiastic and passionate about farming and conservation.  Many casuals and contractors are also employed for peak periods such as our annual autumn and spring tree planting programs.

The award-winning Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld is also a key part of the Dunkeld Pastoral business. The hotel has 40 rooms with varying styles of accommodation, two restaurants and a 28,000 bottle wine cellar with the largest private collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy in the Southern Hemisphere. The Dunkeld Pastoral farms business supplies beef and lamb for use in the Royal Mail Hotel Restaurants and there are exciting plans in place for Provenir to be part of this process in the future.

 

Why Provenir? 

“Provenir appear to be an extremely innovative company that is on the path to really making a difference.

Our companies share many values and from the early stages of Provenir’s development we have been eager to partner with them.”  – Cecilia Myers

Farm fast facts

Farm NameDunkeld Pastoral Co Pty Ltd
Farm Size25,000 acres
How many cattle?2,100 breeding cows
Who works on the farm?A staff of 16 employees who work across the farms, ranging from Farm Managers, Farm Hands and a Conservation team 
 Favourite beef meal?Eye Fillet
Why Provenir?We believe in the animal welfare and eating quality benefits that Provenir provides.  Their story as a company is amazing and we hope they are very successful.  

Why we farm

Making a real difference

The Myers family and staff at Dunkeld Pastoral appreciate the opportunity to live and work in the shadow of the Grampians, on the productive Victorian Volcanic Plain.

“Working with livestock and passionate people is a great part of farming. I love the variety of work, with every day and every year being different and the work based on seasons, not a 9 – 5 business cycle. Working outside and seeing the evolution of the landscape and environment is extremely fulfilling, as is being part of a diverse and exciting business.” – David Lomas, Corea South Farm Manager

The ownership and stewardship of land, their ability to make a real difference to its condition both now and into the future at the same time as producing essentials like food and fibre are all important in the Dunkeld Pastoral story. 

“It’s a huge privilege to live and work at Dunkeld Pastoral, and having healthy and productive land is our goal.” – Cecilia Myers

 

Heritage

A modern return to local meat processing at Dunkeld

Dunkeld Pastoral Co Pty Ltd was established in 1976 by Allan and Maria Myers and Allan’s parents John and Elizabeth Myers.  John Myers was the local butcher in the small town of Dunkeld, establishing his butcher shop “Myers Quality Butchery”, with the support of his parents as a newly married 21 year old returnee from the war in 1947.  His slaughterhouse and hanging shed remain on the family property.

In 1976 John Myers took over the management of the new farm business, continuing to operate the butcher shop for several years, and remained on the land until 1994.

The move to work with Provenir is therefore a modern return to local meat processing for Dunkeld Pastoral.  John Myers would have loved to see the work of Provenir as he maintained a belief in the value of local slaughtering and distribution of meat.

Over the years the Myers family have undertaken restoration work focussed on the historic buildings across the properties.  The “Mt Sturgeon” homestead and woolshed, as well as an historic bluestone selector’s cottage (1860s) and a bluestone pioneer cottage have been restored.   

 

“Quality of product, high animal welfare standards and a strong commitment to land stewardship are all important for our business, and to Provenir.”

–  Cecilia Myers

Livestock

Black Angus cattle

Dunkeld Pastoral run Black Angus cattle, with 1200 breeder cows, 816 heifers, and 900 steers currently held across the properties. 

The Black Angus breed was selected for its marketing appeal and a number of bloodlines have been selected for their different traits.  The breeding program is guided by indexes and Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) set out in the Angus BREEDPLAN, a genetic evaluation program adopted by Angus Australia. 

The traits that Dunkeld Pastoral breed for include cattle growth, feed efficiency, fertility, along with carcase traits of eye muscle, rib fat, retail beef yield and intramuscular fat, also known as marbling. 

Cows are selected to have a medium size frame, good structure and constitution as well as a good temperament.  The cows are calved down in mobs of 10-20 per paddock and are brought together after calving to run in mobs of around 100. 

In addition to cattle Dunkeld Pastoral also run a flock of 25,000 self-replacing composite ewes, with most of the lambs sold at weaning as ‘store’, meaning they are are not yet finished growing. 

 

Livestock management

Cattle are handled with Low Stress Stockhandling techniques. 

Low stress stock handling is employed on Dunkeld Pastoral with all managers having undertaken a course in Low Stress Stockhandling. 

Low Stress Stockhandling places an emphasis on achieving mutually beneficial outcomes for both stock and handlers, regardless of environment or yard design.

The foundation for Low Stress Stockhandling is based on four animal instincts that explain what animals want, and why they behave the way they do.  In addition to these instincts are seven principles that guide how handlers can interact with the animals to work with those natural instincts and produce low stress outcomes. 

Cattle at Dunkeld Pastoral graze on a mix of ryegrass and sub-clover, phalaris and sub clover, or fescue and sub clover as well as some native pastures.  

Fodder crops including brassicas are grown and silage is cut from the property to feed livestock in leaner times. 

Cattle are only drenched as required following analysis of worm egg counts, rotational grazing is utilised to minimise any worm burden on the cattle.

 

Land management

Environmental and conservation work runs in parallel to farm management

A key focus of Dunkeld Pastoral’s operations is the environmental and conservation work that runs in parallel to the farm management.  A Land Management Strategy, developed by the conservation and farm team, guides management decisions over a wide range of topics including revegetation, waterway protection, pasture management, pest control and threatened species protection. Dunkeld Pastoral have an ambition for their produce to be certified carbon neutral.

Over the past decade, and ongoing, the company has focused on fencing properties into smaller paddocks to allow better control of grazing and to use rotational grazing strategies.

Peak pasture growth at Dunkeld is over the spring and maximising this pasture is always important to the farming operation. The challenge is optimising the period of high pasture growth which is followed by hot and often dry summers. The autumn break is always crucial to get pastures growing again after summer, and winters are cold, wet and frosty.  

At this time of year (August 2020) the team are busy preparing for the summer fodder sowing program, marking lambs, and checking cows that are calving.  Recent property purchases also mean that the team are currently in the planning and development stage of work on these new properties.

Deep rooted perennials, lucerne and phalaris are planted to help improve the structure of the soil as well as the amount of carbon in the profile.  Fertiliser is used only on the improved pastures to replace the nutrients that are taken from the soils.   

Dunkeld Pastoral use ‘feed budgeting’ as a tool to meet the challenges of a changing climate, selling down stock numbers in the dryer years so as not to over stock and degrade soils, ensuring they are able to maintain ground cover at all times.

 

Conservation

Significant effort is made to conserve and restore and the land.

Dunkeld Pastoral has put significant effort into changing and restoring their properties.  

Some of the targets they are working towards include revegetating 20% of the farm area with native trees, shrubs and grasses.  All creeks, waterways and rivers are fenced from livestock, except on the recently acquired properties where once again work is being done to fence off waterways.  The protection of native grassland communities is managed through strategic grazing programs, and other programs guide the sustainable and productive use of the land. 

The Dunkeld Pastoral Land Management Strategy also sets numerous other targets in relation to the management of the farms, some of which, such as our significant revegetation programs, have been underway for over 40 years.   

Significant effort has been put into restoration of rivers and waterways with a particular focus on the restoration of the Wannon River.  On “Yasme”, the river has been fenced for 40 years and on “Mt Sturgeon”, for over 20 years.  This work is monitored through a series of photopoints along the Wannon River, documenting the changes to the river through the removal of stock, over 20 years.  

Dunkeld Pastoral have also restored a 125Ha swamp, Scale Swamp, at “McPhee’s” to provide breeding habitat for frogs, water birds and aquatic flora and to recharge groundwater.

Other work has focussed on the control and stabilisation of areas of erosion on the side of Mt Sturgeon caused by rabbits in the 1950s.  This sensitive country has been set aside and native vegetation is returning.