Westaway Property Visit

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When I was at the SEQ (Southeast Queensland) Regional AgForce meeting in Gympie, I met this lovely couple, John and Sherry Westaway. They invited me to come out and visit their property and after a few phone calls we decided August 1 would work. So yesterday, Nadine and I headed out for the Westaway’s. They live between 1.5 and 2 hours Northwest of Brisbane. It was a beautiful drive.

When we arrived Mrs. Westaway had smoko (morning tea) ready for us. She made this yummy Damper bread with butter and syrup and Lamingtons (all very Australian).

After morning tea, we set out to see their property. Mr. and Mrs. Westaway own a 2,000 acre property and run about 200 breeders. The cattle are crossbreds implementing Brahman, Santa Gertrudis and Charolais. We drove around their property for about 2 hours looking at the cattle. They also have red deer on their property which isn’t very typical in Australia.

Looking at the Charolais calf, you’ll notice in the ear on the left it has a white NLIS tag which is the National Livestock Identification System for Australia so they can track the animal from birth to slaughter. The tag in the ear on the right is the Westaway tag. They use different colors for different years. Pretty smart if you ask me!

In the bottom right picture, those calves are in an oat pasture. The Westaway’s plant about 20 acres of oats and then leave the calves on the oat pasture for about 100 days and then sell them as fat calves.

I also learned that this mound is actually an ant hill and it’s really hard to control for them so it’s easier to just let them be. To get rid of it, they’d have to bring the tractor out and lift it from the base. It’s quite a tedious task.

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Another thing I found interesting is Mr. Westaway prefers to create his own wooden fence stakes instead of using t-posts.

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Mr. Westaway also makes his own lick stations. They’re pretty awesome!

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On our way back to the house we stopped and took a look at their working pens. In Australia, they dip their cattle for ticks. This is a whole new concept for me. They walk down the stairs on one side, swim across, and then walk up the stairs once they reach the other side. It’s important to dip for ticks in Australia since the ticks carry very harmful bacteria and the cattle can catch tick fever and die.

It’s also required that cattle be branded. The Westaway’s use this piece of equipment for that. The calf walks in, gets squeezed and then turned over on its side to be branded. It’s similar to the way a hoof trimmer would lead a calf up onto the trimming table and then turn it over, except they do it all by hand. There’s no cracks to help them get the calf back upright!

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They also just got a brand new crush. It’s quite nice, don’t you think? It also came with a neck support. The silver part on the back of the crush is a set of scales.

Then the Westaway’s made us a very nice lunch. They grilled steaks and prawns and there was potatoes and broccoli. I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. I did, however, take a picture of the Pavlova she made for dessert!

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I really appreciate the Westaway’s for allowing me to come and see their property and for their great hospitality. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed every second! Mrs. Westaway is a vet by trade and Mr. Westaway has farmed all his life. Another interesting fact about the Westaway’s is they’ve been AgForce members since AgForce first began in 1999.

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About Chelsey Ahrens

I currently work for the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in the Animal Science Department. I'm the Specialty Livestock/Youth Education Specialist. I have a Ph.D. in agricultural communications from Texas Tech, a master's in agricultural leadership from the University of Georgia, and a bachelor's in animals science from the University of Arkansas. I love all things agriculture, particularly livestock. I also like to bake, cook, can, sew, and play with my dog child, Shooter.

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