Paringa is an indigenous word meaning “home on the river”.
Tom and Olivia Lawson, together with their two sons Oscar and Monty run a stud cattle operation known as Paringa, close to the Murrindindi River near Yea. They also have another farm at Clarkes Hill in central west Victoria, near Ballarat.
Paringa was founded in 2006 and now operates as a diverse stud beef business running about 400 Red Angus, Black Angus, Charolais and red and black composite Stabilizer® cows.
The Lawsons are passionate about regenerative farming, best practice animal welfare and sustainable beef production, a focus which saw them achieve the Landcare Victorian Sustainable Farming Award in 2014.
Cattle breeding is in Tom’s blood, he grew up in a family Angus business, while Olivia grew up in South Gippsland on a prime lamb property. They both studied Ag Science at university, with Tom attending Lincoln in New Zealand and Olivia attending Dookie in Victoria.
Tom and Olivia are passionate about agriculture and have shared a strong interest in biological farming systems for over 18 years.
“I am inspired by people who have a strong connection to the land and animals including Alan Savory, Bud Williams, and Henry Gardiner. I am very excited about working with Provenir and sharing our mutual passions.” – Tom Lawson
“We share similar philosophies with Provenir. It is a good opportunity to close the gap between farmer and consumer, as well as farmer and processor, celebrating the provenance of food, less stress on our animals and ultimately less carbon emissions.” – Olivia Lawson
Farm fast facts
|Farm Name||“Miss Youngs” Murrindindi|
|Farm Size||Combined farms 600ha|
|How many cattle?||400 breeders, 150 young bulls|
|Who works on the farm?||Tom manages farming operations, breeding, grazing systems and livestock management with Assistant Farm Manager, Grant. Olivia manages business strategy, admin, and helps Tom setting sustainable land management goals.|
|Favourite beef meal?||Tom and the boys enjoy a good steak, while Olivia prefers a stir fry with tender rump!|
|Why Provenir?||We support Provenir’s philosophies, and it sits well with our own. We have purchased Provenir products off the shelf, and while most have been of good eating quality, we really appreciate the provenance and welfare story with each package.|
Why we farm
Converting grass into high quality protein.
The Lawsons love being able to convert grass in to high quality protein for consumers, through their production of ethically raised cattle.
They enjoy breeding easy care performance cattle benchmarked on a global database, whilst caring for the land, and focussing on sustainability for future generations.
“I am inspired by Australia’s beef producers, and feeling very positive with the current state of play in terms of innovation, beef sustainability focus, and producing the highest standard of beef globally, but also where things are headed.” – Olivia Lawson
A history of farming and an eye to the future
The Lawsons purchased their Murrindindi property as a deceased estate in the 90s, a lady by the name of Miss Young had lived and farmed there her entire life alone. By all accounts Miss Young was an was incredibly capable and the Lawsons named the property in her honour.
Since exiting the extended family business Tom and Olivia have enjoyed pursuing their own passion for sustainable farming systems, and have developed strong relationships with inspiring and passionate cattle breeders from around the globe, sharing ideas and genetics.
They have been conscious of the need for climate change adaptation for some time, experiencing prolonged drought and bushfires. For many years they have focussed on sustainable farming systems, minimising the impact on their environment whilst producing quality beef cattle.
"These are exciting times in our industry outlook; the goal of carbon neutral by 2030, and the national biodiversity scheme will reward farmers for good land stewardship."
– Olivia Lawson
Black Angus, Red Angus and multi-breed cattle.
Paringa is a stud cattle operation with three different breeding herds including Black Angus, Red Angus and a multi-breed called the Stabilizer®.
The Lawsons run approximately 400 breeding cows across the three breeds, plus follower stock and around 150 bulls each year, which are sold on property at 12 and 18 months. Paringa is one of the biggest sellers of yearling bulls in the country.
Performance of their cattle is measured and benchmarked from birth, and they have found that the $Profit Index works best for them as a selection tool. They look for balanced traits including calving ease, fertility, carcase, growth, docility, structure, and also DNA test for the polled gene, as horned cattle are an animal welfare issue. Genomic testing of all bulls is conducted prior to sale including multi-breeds.
Tom and Olivia were the first to introduce the Stabilizer® breed to Australia. The cattle are the result of a four way cross and present real hybrid vigour, with cattle traits focused on meat quality, productivity, feed efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
The Lawsons consider themselves early adopters of technology including an Electronic Identification scanner system, a calf tagging trailer and new genetic technologies like genomics which play a critical role in the success of their breeding programs.
Cattle run in large mobs.
Tom and Olivia run their cattle in large mobs for two reasons, to optimise grazing pressure, and to accurately record performance data of livestock ran in large contemporary groups. The mobs are often ran in breed and age groups to enable data to be recorded for their breeding programs.
Paddock sizes vary from 2ha to 20ha and hot-wires are used to split up paddocks to enable greater rotational grazing. The cattle are drenched and vaccinated as required.
The Lawsons are passionate about animal welfare, utilising low-stress stock handling methods with their cattle, and their commitment to animal welfare was also a driving factor in choosing to process their commercial cattle stock with Provenir.
Heathy pastures and healthy cattle.
Tom and Olivia adopted biological farming practices before anyone used the term “sustainability”.
Biological farming practices used at Paringa include growing soil carbon, using mineral balanced fertilisers, no applied nitrogen, direct drilling of multi species pastures, use of dung beetles, minimal chemical use, and sugar syrup used in spray tanks to feed the bugs. They have also trialled the application of natural hay booster in the form of a microbe spray.
About a third of the Lawsons’ land is used for perennial-type pasture system for grazing, a third for pasture cropping and the remaining third comprised of timber country with native grasses.
Pastures are made up of multi species deep rooted perennials and when the season allows the Lawsons cut silage to feed the weaners and young bulls. Glyphosate is used only for pasture improvement when direct drilling multi species and no pesticides are used on the land.
Olivia is the Southern Independent Director for Cattle Council Australia, and sits on the Environment Sustainability Committee in addition to her work within the farm business. Paringa recently participated in the Meat and Livestock Australia carbon-accounting project and the early stages of a farm biodiversity certification pilot scheme in which farmers are rewarded financially for their biodiversity and land stewardship.
They have built fences to protect stands of remnant paddock trees and waterways, and extended revegetated areas across their land holding. A reticulated water system has been established to provide good water quality for the cattle and help protect sensitive natural ecosystems.
Rotational grazing of livestock is used to maximise ground cover year round, promote soil carbon generation and maximise water retention for the long dry summers. Maintaining ground cover reduces weed growth, assists pasture recovery after the dry spell, balances soil temperature, reduces wind and rain erosion.
“Soil biology is important as indicator of eco system health. Heathy soils equals healthy cattle.” – Olivia Lawson