The 2023 Farmers of the Year – Andrew and Tess Herbert – have embraced technology to take their cattle feedlot business to the next level.

Story Kirsty McKenzie  Photos Ken Brass

The day starts early at Tess and Andrew Herbert’s Gundamain Pastoral Company near Eugowra in the Lachlan Valley of central-western NSW. The sun is barely up but the joint is already jumping as Tess and Andrew and their staff of 20 tackle myriad jobs. The family enterprise includes a feedlot with 6,000 British-breed cattle, a further 1,500 cattle being backgrounded for the feedlot and more than 5,300ha for growing crops, running 8,000 Merino and first-cross ewes as well as 850 Angus breeders.

After a quick check-in on routine welfare monitoring at the feedlot, Tess is in the office, where she manages compliance, finances and HR, while Andrew is also at the desk, overseeing the extraordinary amount of data that is collected across the operation to ensure it runs at peak efficiency. Software systems manage everything from the cattle in the paddock and feedlot through electronic identification to crop and pasture surveillance, soil health and animal feed allocations. 

The couple’s use of technology partly contributed to their being selected as the 2023 winners of the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year award. “Their extension to lot feeding, investment in infrastructure, use of technology across multiple areas of the farm and their involvement within the industry and their local community is substantial and deserving of praise,” says Ben White, the Kondinin Group’s general manager of research.

As CEO of his family’s beef enterprise, Camm Agricultural Group, Bryce Camm says that Andrew and Tess should be applauded for their ambition and determination to innovate and grow. “I’ve always taken counsel from the Herberts as a family-run business in an area of the industry that’s dominated by large companies,” he says. “They’re always generous with their time and are willing to have a conversation that cuts through to what’s working and what’s not." 

This story excerpt is from Issue #152

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2024