The Lawson family
Peter and Bundle both grew up on farms.
Today they run the two family properties, Gundillawah in the Mundarlo valley and Trewalla in nearby Book Book.
Over the past decade Peter and Bundle have studied Holistic Management, independently at first, and then together in 2008. This recent course reaffirmed that together they wanted to manage their farms and lifestyle under the principles of Holistic Management, and strive to improve the landscapes in a sustainable way.
Holistic Management, as defined by Alan Savory who developed the framework, is a process of decision-making and planning that gives people the insights and management tools needed to understand nature: resulting in better, more informed decisions that balance key social, environmental, and financial considerations.
“We loved the idea of on-farm processing, with reduced stress on the livestock and knowing exactly where our produce ends up. By partnering with Provenir we have a great opportunity to be a part of a new initiative in livestock processing. ” – Peter and Bundle Lawson
Farm fast facts
|Farm Name||Gundillawah (gun-dilla-war)|
|Farm Size||2200 hectares|
|How many cattle?||500 breeding cows|
|Who works on the farm?||Pete and Bundle Lawson and one full-time employee|
|Favourite beef meal?||Roast beef fillet|
|Why Provenir?||On-farm processing is a great fit with our production goals and ambitions|
Why we farm
A love of a challenge, or two
For Peter and Bundle farming is in their blood, in fact Bundle’s family have been farming Gundillawah for five generations, but it’s more than history that keeps them on the land.
Both Peter and Bundle love working with nature, and chose to follow their families into farming, relishing the many and varied challenges that farming provides.
Inspired by people who are passionate about the agricultural industry, and belonging to a fantastic local community also keeps the Lawsons happy on the land; a dislike for big cities helps too.
The name Gundillawah apparently means ‘place of many turtles’ in the local Aboriginal dialect of the Wiradjuri tribe.
The property straddles a winding creek, which flows into the Murrumbidgee River, paddocks range from the alluvial creek flats to heavily timbered country, offering spectacular views and home to a diversity of plants and native animals.
Gundillawah was settled in 1859 as part of a landholding known as Yabtree, a large sheep and cattle grazing property. In 1925, following the death of the landholder at the time, the station was divided between three sons, making the parcel of land known as Gundillawah a property in its own right.
About 40 years ago, under the operation of Bundle’s parents a cropping program was introduced, but today it is purely a grazing operation.
“We have three young children and love teaching them about Holistic Management and why we do what we do.
We want our properties to become increasingly healthy and productive, so our children can enjoy the challenge of taking them on if they desire.”
– Peter Lawson
Mostly Black Angus with some AngusX
Hereford cattle once dotted the landscape at Gundillawah but when Peter and Bundle were looking to build their breeding herd numbers, Angus cattle were generally more marketable and even commanded price premiums for the steer progeny. The decision was made to transition to the Black Angus breed, with all cows now joined to Angus bulls.
Today the Lawsons run a self-replacing breeding herd of Angus cattle based on mostly Rennylea bloodlines, with about 500 commercial breeding cows. They keep most of the heifer calves as replacement breeders and grow out the steer progeny for beef.
While the herd is mostly Angus, a few white faces can be seen amongst the cattle, known as Black Baldy, these cattle are the result of an Angus crossed with a Poll Hereford and a legacy from the Hereford herd Bundle’s parents ran in days gone by.
Holistic Management principles guide decision making.
The Lawsons produce what they believe to be happy, healthy and productive livestock in a quiet, stress-free manner.
The cattle graze entirely on grass, a mix of improved, annual and native pastures. They are handled regularly from horseback, with motorbikes or vehicles, with and without dogs, using low stress stock handling principles.
The Lawsons take time to handle their cattle quietly, applying and then releasing pressure when they are moving as desired. Being aware of the livestock’s instincts, field of sight and natural tendencies within a herd structure all contribute to keeping the cattle relaxed as possible while being moved onto the next paddock or handled within the yards.
Gundillawah is beautiful country of rolling hills and meandering creeks, it’s productive country and usually provides reliable rainfall.
Since adopting Holistic Management, and employing practices such as time-controlled grazing, the Lawson’s have observed changes in the landscape including increased groundcover, gradual increase in plant species and diversity of annuals to perennials.
They have also experienced a change in their attitudes to farming and are now happy to be striving for their own goals, and not beholden to someone else’s opinions or, what is seen as a more conventional way of thinking.
Peter and Bundle now feel they are well on the way to realising their vision of producing high quality, healthy food and fibre in a sustainable, profitable manner whilst regenerating and improving the land on which they farm.