A farming partnership
Owner and manager with a vision for the farms future
Llandillo is a Welsh name which came to Apsley Downs with the Poll Hereford stud herd of cattle when it was purchased from John Kelly of Crookwell in the year 2000. The Llandillo name was well respected within the industry so the owners of Apsley Downs saw no reason to change it.
Located in the Bathurst district of NSW, the farm provides good ground to run a viable cattle enterprise while also being within close proximity to Sydney, just two and a half hours away.
Owned by John and Alla Neradovsky, Apsley Downs is managed by Lee White, together with his wife Claire, their son Max, and Connor Evans who lives and works on the farm.
Lee loves the farming lifestyle, living where he works, and being able to look after and feed animals to their best potential.
“The fact that I have been able to completely change the direction and the focus of the business and have had John and Alla’s full support the whole time is what I really love about working here.” – Lee White
Chestnut and almond-fed beef
The cattle go ‘nuts’ for almonds and chestnuts
Inspired by the century old tradition of finishing pigs on nuts, and the resulting flavour of the pork and prosciutto, Lee and his friend Antony of Harris Farm Markets, were keen to see if they could transfer this feed method across to cattle.
Two years ago the duo were able to source a good supply of seconds from the annual chestnut harvest and trials began on how to best present the new feed to the Llandillo herd. Soon enough they found the cattle went ‘nuts’ for them.
Despite the region being in drought conditions the cattle grew well, ranging in the big open paddocks, fed on corn and barley silage, lucerne hay and snacking on the new nut feed.
First showing in the glossy shine of the Hereford’s coats, the real success of the alternate feed was discovered in the resulting beef; full flavoured and offered a deliciously buttery taste and texture, it was an instant hit with chefs and home-cooks alike.
Motivated by the positive feedback they received on the nut-fed beef the duo decided to expand the program this year, and also add to the unique quality of the beef by processing the cattle on-farm with Provenir.
With the learnings of past seasons behind them, Lee and Antony were also able to source almonds, a by-product from an almond milk factory, and will offer almond fed-beef for the very first time this year.
Eating with the seasons
A seasonal product in time for Christmas
Two separate mobs of Llandillo cattle were ran on Aplsey Downs this year, with one receiving the almond feed, and the other chestnuts.
Eating approximately 500kg of nuts each over a 120 – 150 day period, the nuts contribute about 30% of the total cattle feed.
Harvest of the chestnuts starts in May each year, with the first of the ‘seconds’ available from mid to late June and the last of the chestnuts harvested at the end of August.
Chestnuts, are a highly seasonal nut, meaning the chestnut-fed beef is a limited product only ever available seasonally, just in time for Christmas.
The almonds, however are available year round, so we may well see the almond-fed beef become a new beef line for Llandillo, only limited by the volume of the nut milk by-product available, which would otherwise go to landfill.
Llandillo chestnut and almond-fed beef is available exclusively through Harris Farm Markets during December 2019
“Having the cattle processed on-farm puts another aspect of our branded beef line in our hands. There’s no live transport and the cattle are in a familiar environment, with all stock handling done by familiar people.
I am a huge believer in the little ‘one percenters’ making all the difference and I think on-farm processing will make a huge difference.” – Lee White
Farm fast facts
|Farm Name||Apsley Downs|
|Cattle||Llandillo Poll Herefords|
|Farm Size||1085 hectares|
|How many cattle?||200 – 300 breeding cows, plus 400 – 500 trade cattle|
|Who works on the farm?||Owner John Neradovsky, Farm Managers Lee and Claire White, and Connor Evans|
|Favourite beef meal?||Chestnut fed beef pillow steak from Harris Farm, with chips, veg and gravy. Maybe a Llandillo snag on the side|
|Why Provenir?||On-farm processing puts another element of raising our cattle in our own hands. We believe this will make a huge difference to the finished product.|
Why we farm
A childhood dream to be a farmer
Lee’s grandfather and uncle were both sheep and cattle farmers in the Yass region of New South Wales. As a child all he ever wanted to do was be a farmer like them, and while he tried his hand at other professions he always came back to farming.
Starting out, Lee was lucky enough to find full time work in the cattle industry on Stapleton, a cattle stud near Scone NSW. It was here that he met and worked with a cattleman by the name of Colin Thompson, he had an amazing way with cattle and was a great mentor to Lee.
Learning more than he could ever have imagine in those first few years, to this day Lee reflects back on those teachings and applies them to the way he farms and handles the cattle at Apsley Downs.
“There is no better feeling than being a farmer in a good season.” – Lee White
From a breeding operation to a paddock to plate beef business
Apsley Downs was once owned by the Hallstron family, makers of the kerosene-powered refrigerator popular on outback stations, and also one of the first affordable domestic electric fridges.
Sir Edward John Lees Hallstrom was also a philanthropist who donated to many causes including land on which Taronga Zoo now stands.
Current owners, John and Alla purchased the property in 1999 and in the following year bought the Llandillo registered Poll Hereford stud (est. 1984), moving the cattle to Apsley Downs.
For 15 years the property operated solely as a stud operation, breeding cattle and selling bulls, continuing the respected Llandillo name and achieving great success over the years.
Having worked on the property since 2012, Lee took over as manager in 2016 bringing plenty of fresh ideas at a time that the operation was expanding and changing direction. Since then, Lee has increased cropping on the property to between 600 and 800 acres, and is working towards being self sufficient and reduce the farms carbon footprint.
During the past three years all hay, silage and grain has been grown on the farm and in an effort to diversify the business, and ensure a steady income year round, Lee has also established their own branded beef program.
“ I am a very big believer in slow cattle work, we walk the cattle at all times when yarding and moving them. "
" Our saying here is, the slower you work the cattle the quicker you will be finished. ”
– Lee White, Apsley Downs Farm Manager
Llandillo Poll Hereford
Llandillo has always been a Poll Hereford stud, and having been around Herefords his whole life Lee was very happy to continue working with the breed which he loves for their temperament, doing ability, consistent growth and best of all tenderness and flavour of the beef.
Over the last 5 years Lee and the team have utilised a good balance of Australian and Canadian / USA genetics in an effort to speed up growth rates to 400 days, and improve fat cover without losing the good wedge shape and long fronted females that they have within the Llandillo herd.
Currently the property stocks about 230 cows and heifers which will calve in 2020, about 50 yearling and weaner heifers, together with about 150 steers on feed and 30 sale bulls for next year.
Llandillo are looking to grow the cow herd numbers by keeping 95% of heifers and allowing them to calve down and rear one calf before culling.
The slower you work the cattle, the quicker you will be finished
A big believer in slow cattle work, Lee and is team walk the cattle at all times when yarding and moving the herd.
They try to follow the same routine each time they are drafting the cattle through the yards, as Lee has found repetition and familiarity are very important for the cattle to know what you want them to do.
Lee’s saying here on Apsley Downs goes that the slower you work the cattle the quicker you will be finished.
Cattle graze on rye grass crops and a natural pasture of rye, clover and cocksfoot. Cereal crops including barley and corn are sown on property and harvested to be fed during the lean summer months and grazed over following harvest.
Rotational grazing is key to success of the farming operation
Lee tries to work most of the property on the basis of rotational grazing. Being on granite country it’s hard to get pasture back if over grazed, so paddocks are allowed to rest for a good amount of time and cattle are not kept in paddocks low on feed.
While the property would typically be in the middle of hay season during November the drought has resulted in all of this years crops failing. Cattle have been put over the failed crop paddocks and there will be no cutting of hay this season. Instead Lee will turn is attention to weed management; there is always something to be done on the farm.
While the summers are hot, winters come very cold at Apsley Downs, so Lee and his team need to get their crops in during early February, to ensure enough growth before it gets too cold, and so there is feed for the cows to graze during the winter months.