The northern New South Wales station of Burindi is the perfect combination of corporate agriculture meets family farm.

Story by Virginia Tapp  Photo by Josh Smith

When managers Richard and Ruth Puddicombe arrived on Burindi in 2009 they knew a challenge lay ahead. Fences were down, pastures were mostly unimproved and infrastructure needed updating. “The fact that the place was in such a bad way was actually a good thing,” Richard says, after a day of preg-testing.
“It meant we could knock it down and start again.” 

Richard is a tall, solid man who gives the impression that no problem is too difficult. He has just returned from working the crush at the yards on Wiranya, about an hour’s drive from Burindi. More than 90 percent of his glossy black Angus cows are back in calf, confirming the merits of Richard’s decision to completely restock and ‘go black’. Replacing the original Hereford herd, the Angus cows show a good fat covering, despite the dry autumn.  

“At the time of acquisition, Burindi had a combination of Hereford and Longhorn cattle,” Richard says. “I was pretty keen to go black, and Paraway supported the move towards establishing a quality Angus self-replacing herd.” Unable to find a large herd of top-quality Angus cows, Richard bought up small lines of exceptional breeding as they became available. He built up his herd over two years using this piecemeal approach. “This year there’s 3000 cows, plus 1000 replacement heifers coming in, so we will sell 1000 older cows or surplus cows to make room for the replacements,” he says. 

Some of Richard’s management techniques have been so successful that they’re now used across other Paraway properties. In recognition of their exceptional work, the Puddicombes won the Paraway Cup for Excellence in Station Management last year, which comes with a study tour. Richard and Ruth are hoping to travel to North America to study supply chains. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #111

Outback Magazine: Feb/March 2017