The Locke family
Three generations of the Locke family live on “Spring Valley”, home to the Wirruna Poll Hereford Stud.
The Wirruna Poll Hereford herd was established by Aubrey and Ruby Locke in 1949. The Wirruna name came from the original home of the Poll Hereford herd and is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning “place of beautiful sunset”
In 1981 the Locke family purchased “Spring Valley” and moved the herd to the current property. Spring valley is now also home to three generations of the Locke family
Made up of 65 paddocks and mainly watered through dams & two semi-permanent creeks, the property has around 1,200 Ha of good improved pastures with the balance being native hill country or land set aside for regeneration and Landcare tree plantings.
The property is undulating with gentle rolling hills with granite outcrops, it sits at an altitude of 320m above sea level and receives 700mm of winter dominant rainfall.
The Locke family are passionate about the welfare of their cattle and the Wirruna herd genetics.
Being principally a genetics business, the Locke family are keen to collect carcase feedback from Provenir so they can benchmark and refine their breeding goals to breed better beef for the consumer.
“Animal welfare is of fundamental importance to us with animals raised from birth and managed in a low stress and natural environment on our farm.
Provenir offers an animal processing option with the highest animal welfare standards in mind. Sources of animal stress such as trucking or exposure to unfamiliar environments are removed by the Provenir system.”
– Ian Locke
Farm fast facts
|Farm Name||“Spring Valley”|
|Farm Size||3,546 Acres (1,435 Ha)|
|How many cattle?|
1,400 Head (Joining 800 breeding cows and selling surplus breeders to calve down 600 cows).
|Who works on the farm?|
Ian and Diana – Manage the Stud and farm
Jack and Annabel – Oversee day to day activities on the farm
Didee and Richard – Check stock and assist with preparing for on-farm Bull Sales and field days.
|Favourite cut of beef?|
Scotch Fillet, cooked medium rare
Provenir offers an animal processing option with the highest animal welfare standards in mind. Sources of animal stress such as trucking or exposure to unfamiliar environments are removed by the Provenir system.
Why we farm
A sense of purpose, family and calm cattle.
The Locke family is grateful for the opportunity to be brought up on the land, working with animals and surrounded by family.
Farming provides them with a sense of purpose – being able to provide the world with an ethical and healthy source of protein. The Wirruna Poll Hereford cattle are raised naturally and renown for their docile nature. Quiet cattle are easy to handle and make farming very enjoyable for the whole family.
Inspired by innovation in the agricultural industry as people find new ways to provide for the future, the Locke family have also embraced innovation on Spring Valley.
The Locke family aimed to keep up to date with best practice as new research and practices have emerged in the agricultural industry over time. This has shaped the way they farm today and is continually changing as new and better practices are established.
Research plays a large role in this evolution and has allowed the Locke family to better utilise the land, allowing them to run more stock on the good country and fence off and protect fragile areas at risk of degradation. This has seen significant improvements in controlling erosion, improving soil acidity, noxious weed management and adding to the native species, returning biodiversity to the environment.
“Farming can involve long days in the rain, hail and shine but when you love what you do it never feels like work and there is a great sense of satisfaction producing the best quality product that we can.” – Ian Locke
Four generations and over 70 years of stud cattle
The Wirruna Poll Hereford herd was established by Aubrey and Ruby Locke in 1949. In the 1970’s their son Richard succeeded his father as Stud Principal, changing the focus of the stud to producing bulls aimed at the needs of commercial producers.
In 1994 Richard’s son Ian returned home with his wife Diana and two children Henry and Annabel, expanding the stud herd through his passion for science and genetic gain. Continuing the families love for animals, in particular a strong passion for breeding genetically superior cattle Annabel and her fiancé Jack returned home to Spring Valley in 2019 to be involved in the family business.
Many decades of diligent measurement, recording and selection has seen the Wirruna herd rated as one of the best in the country, renown for good genetics for good temperament, easy calving, high fertility, good muscle, high marbling and profit.
The Wirruna Poll Herefords rate as the highest marbling Hereford herd in Australasia!
" We have spoken about branding our meat for some time,
unable to find a simple solution to make it possible.
Provenir has provided us with that opportunity."
– Ian Locke
“Wirruna rate as the highest marbling Hereford herd in Australasia.” – Ian Locke
Wirruna is recognised to be at the leading edge of bull breeding for the commercial beef industry.
The stud has focussed on breeding for commercial traits important to profitable beef production run under high stocking rate conditions.
Wirruna Poll Herefords stands apart for their high level recording and performance information on their animals. The entire cattle herd is fully recorded and lifetime traceable, from birth to the day they leave farm, or are processed on-farm by Provenir. Every husbandry and health treatment, weight and other various performance criteria are recorded. In particular, in an effort to make genetic gain many economically important traits such as growth performance, including weighing calves at birth, calving ease, fertility traits, carcase traits including muscle and marbling, docility and structural attributes are measured.
These traits are analysed through a genetic evaluation system, called Breedplan®, and this measures individual animal traits enabling them to be compared to other animals and herds. In recent years, genomic information has been added to better describe the genes carried by animals.
The disciplined approach to selection benefits commercial clients by providing fertile, easy calving, low cost and more profitable beef genetics targeting high quality beef markets with breed leading marbling and muscle traits. Few herds could boast a more comprehensive level of performance recording which has achieved a ‘5 star’ completeness of recording rating with Breedplan®.
“We have a strong focus on improving carcase traits in the animals, particularly muscle optimum fatness and increased marbling.”
“Through measuring and recording data across our entire herd and selecting our genetics to improve these traits we believe that Wirruna beef will be tender, tasty and of the highest eating quality.” – Annabel Locke
“Low stress stock handling of cattle is utilised at all times, both in the yards and the paddock. Dogs are never used in the yards with cattle, only at times out in the paddock.” – Jack Hanna
Calves are handled with care from the day they are born and are yard weaned so get very used to the Locke family being around. Throughout their lives the cattle see people as a source of food rather than a stress. In the paddock the Wirruna livestock are very curious and will come up and say hello!
Dry cows will often graze the hill country, while lactating and young stock are allocated high quality and nutritious pastures of the arable country. Better weight gain and meat quality performance is achieved from the grazing improved pasture species on well fertilised soils.
The cattle are run in large groups, typically heifers and first calvers are run with their own age group due to different nutritional and management requirements. Older cows are run in a mixed age group typically run as one.
The family also run 3000 Primeline composite ewes and followers. A portion of lambs are kept as replacements with the remainder sold as prime lambs. A small portion of the ewes are joined to Hampshire Downs Rams producing high marbling sheep meat for high quality lamb markets.
“Through genetic selection we have been able to breed animals that not only survive but thrive in a grass-fed operation producing high quality meat.” – Annabel Locke
Managing the land for future generations.
Spring Valley has a range of pastures from native grass hills to highly improved perennial pastures and annual forages.
Rotational grazing of livestock ensures adequate growth and rest periods for all of the pastures, while hard to manage areas are fenced off and used for regenerative projects and tree plantings.
Crops including grazing oats, grazing canola, lucerne for both hay and grazing as well as seasonal silage is produced from excess pastures. Silage is stored and fed back to the stock during times of feed shortage.
For the past 25 years the Locke family worked with Landcare to improve their landscape, planting 2,500 trees a year. A large proportion of the creeks and natural waterway have been fenced off and nature corridors established with over 62,500 native tree plantings made on Spring Valley during this time. Today 15% of the farmland is managed under trees and conservation, reducing the impacts of climate change, protecting precious top soils from erosion and storing carbon.
The hill country has been holistically managed for over a decade, only being grazed in winter to allow native grasses to grow and flourish through their reproductive cycle during the spring and summer months.
Over this time the biodiversity of native species, such as red grass, wallaby grass and microlaena have returned to the landscape providing ground cover and protection for the soils along with a sustainable source of feed for livestock.
The flat country is managed for efficient production of grass-fed beef. It is a high production system with high level animal welfare in mind. Our soils are cherished, regularly limed to prevent soil acidity and super phosphate and sometimes nitrogen-based fertilisers are used to correct nutrient shortfall and promote pasture growth. Legumes such as white and sub-clover are utilised in most of our pastures to add nitrogen to the soil naturally.
“Our family has been involved with the Wirruna herd for the past three generations and we believe that the opportunity should be available for the current generation and generations to come.”
“For this reason we hold the health our environment as a high priority, ensuring the land is sustainably managed and can produce high quality protein for generations to come.” – Annabel Locke.
" Provenir offers the consumer access to vital information
to make more informed choices when purchasing beef.”
– Ian Locke