Driven my a desire to farm ethically and make a profit has seen Macleay Valley farmers Lesley Keevil and Colin Meehan adopt diversity and embrace direct marketing.
The couple have continued to achieve their aims by recently establishing a farm stay on their property at Eungai Creek near Macksville.
Today their 80 hectare property supports a grassfed beef and pork enterprise trading as Hillside Meats NSW. In addition to the Eungai holding they also have 25ha of prime floodplain country near Frederickton.
Colin’s family operated a dairyfarm before moving into vealer production then adding pork and meat chickens to the enterprise. The meat chickens have gone as Lesley and Colin concentrate on their cows and pigs.
“We base our farming on ethical production methods – all the beef and pork is pasture raised,” said Lesley.
According to their manifesto they’re animals live their lives outside in the sun, on grass as nature intended.We aim to pass on that contented goodness in the quality of our meat.
Lesley said they were very fortunate that their enterprise was located close to a multi species abattoir at Frederickton.
“So many producers are unable to have their own livestock processed due to so few meatworks now operating in the country,” she said.
“We are selling direct to others farmers who can’t process their own livestock – that is a sad situation and we are so grateful to have a local abattoir.”
The couple’s decision to market their own meat began many years ago when saleyard returns particular for beef were appalling.
“You weren’t paid for the quality of product you were selling so Colin and I decided to market the meat ourselves,” said Lesley. For ten years they attended markets in Armidale, Coffs Harbour and Newcastle selling beef, pork and chicken.
“But it was relentless work running the farm and going to the markets so we took the decision to stay at home – sell direct to existing customers and opt to sell some of our vealers through the yards,” she said.
“When we decided to drop the markets saleyard prices had lifted substantially which was also provided an an impetuous for our decision.”
Their vealers reared by Brahman cross Friesian dams reach 200-250kg liveweight dressing out an impressive 100kg.