The Grass is Greener in Manypeaks
Kent and Michelle Rochester farm at Manypeaks, where they are bringing up their boys Thomas and Kobi on their beautiful property surrounded by trees, cows and lush pasture.
Being on the south coast, Manypeaks receives reliable rainfall and is generally a great climate for growing grass almost all year round.
Kent practices holistic planned grazing or rotational grazing, where large mobs of cattle are grazed on small areas for short periods of time, and then the paddock is rested for long periods before being grazed again. This grazing system mimics the movement of large wild herds of grazing animals on grasslands. Here this is replicated on a smaller scale, with a general stocking density of 500 head of cattle on 5ha moved daily. This equates to 100 cattle to the hectare, or approximately 35 tons of beef to the ha. Constant daily contact with the herd means the cattle are used to interaction with humans, and low stress stock handling techniques are used to train the cattle without the need for loud noises from humans or dogs.
Kent's first foray into holistic planned grazing was in a particularly dry autumn when they were struggling for grass. They were overstocked and both the cattle and the pastures were under pressure. He began by changing his grazing management, decreasing the amount of time cattle were grazing on one paddock and increasing their grazing density.
This approach changed everything. They saw the pasture recover and bounce back, and this led to experimenting with different density and grazing techniques. It was also the gateway into multi species fodder crops, summer cover crops and biological stimulants and inoculants.
Above you can see Kent moving the cattle onto fresh pasture. As you can see, the cattle are queued at the gate and eager to move into the new paddock, after the ute has driven around them in a circle to let them know it's time to move. The cattle are calm and have a good relationship with their handlers, who are trained in low stress stock handling, which makes the whole process more enjoyable and safer for both cattle and humans.
Kent loves to experiment and this is very apparent on his farm - there is always an interesting trial or project going on, and all lessons learned are applied to how they manage the farm. It is a beautiful place with a healthy farm ecosystem and some very happy cows, which is testament to the management style of Kent, Michelle and their team of workers.