Brian and Kerry Wehlburg from Kindee Valley Farm produce delicious pork, beef and eggs. The Wehlburgs believe in ethical and sustainable farming – and the methods they use ensure their produce is tasty, nutritious and healthy.
Give us some background information about yourselves and how you became involved with farming?
We’re both from Zimbabwe, where we ran a mixed cropping, livestock and safari enterprise – which was taken over by the Mugabe government in 2000. Brian has been involved with agriculture for his whole working life; he has also qualified as a Holistic Management educator.
I grew up on a farm and worked in the agricultural industry and then kind of married back into farming. Our first stop in Australia was Queensland, where Brian worked for a pastoral company, as well as starting our Australian Holistic Management training business.
We moved to Kindee in 2008, purchasing the farm with a group of people wanting to be involved with sustainable agriculture.
Describe your property and livestock …
Kindee Valley Farm is a picturesque 650 acre farm situated in Kindee, a valley north west of Long Flat. Productive river flat paddocks alongside the Kindee and Pine Scrub Creeks are surrounded by slopes and pockets of rainforest on the hills.
We run 60 breeders [cattle], favouring Brangus, and have 8 mixed breed sows. Our small flock of Isa Brown hens completes the picture.
What exactly do you mean by the term ‘ethical farming’ – and how do you put this into practise?
We’re both animal lovers, but are also dedicated omnivores! For us, ethical farming means that we raise animals for food in as natural a way possible, without them suffering from forced unnatural diets, overcrowding or confinement. We also use the animals to work the environment in a positive way, increasing the soil carbon content.
What are the processes involved in producing your quality meat and egg products?
At Kindee Valley Farm we produce ‘pastured’ food; by this, we mean that the animals are out in the paddock and are moved onto fresh pasture regularly. To us, this is true ‘free range’ farming.
A lot of our inspiration has come from Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm and the principles of Holistic Management, which teach that animals can be used as tools to improve our environment. We have developed a holistic grazing plan, which enables us to organise the moving of the livestock onto fresh pasture – allowing the pasture a recovery period to regenerate roots and plant energy.
The cattle are moved using low-stress stock handling methods. The pigs are kept in sections of paddock behind electric tape, where they have access to shelter and water. We run them through patches of Blady Grass and Bracken, which they do a great job of ploughing up. We then sow desirable pasture species behind them. Because we are moving the animals onto fresh pasture constantly, we have had no problems with worm infestations – and our requirement for chemical usage is minimal.
Our animals are killed at Eversons Food Processors in Frederickton. We try to ensure that they have minimal waiting time there. Apart from our concern with the animals’ welfare, there is also the factor that beef from cattle which are stressed prior to slaughter is often tough. From Eversons, the carcasses are shipped to Thomas’s Friendly Butchery in Wauchope, where Glen matures the meat and cuts it up.
The chickens and their portable hen houses (built using old trampolines from the town dump) are kept behind moveable electric netting and moved once they have grazed their paddock down (and fertilised it). Of course, the chickens and pigs have to be fed and watered every day and eggs collected.
We are very small egg producers – the packing and grading are done here on the farm, and the children label the boxes. We sell boxes of mixed size eggs – that’s the way the hens lay them!
How do you organise distribution of your products?
We sell most of our meat in pre-ordered hampers; whole, half and quarter animals. Customers who order our meat contact us, and we send them an order form where they indicate how they would like their meat cut up. The meat is vacuum packed, allowing it to mature further. Customers collect their hamper from the butcher or accept delivery, depending on where they live. We also sell small packs of frozen meat at the Farmers’ Markets.
What is it about your beef, pork and eggs you believe consumers will appreciate the most?
We’ve had customers phone us to tell us our eggs are the best they’ve ever tasted, and received a ‘thank you’ note for our great pork. There’s a bit of ‘wow’ factor in that for us! Our eggs and pork are tasty and nutritious – it’s because the animals eat fresh, green pasture.
Some consumers want produce from animals which they know have been free to range. Our beef is grass-fed – it tends to be leaner than grain fed beef and tastier. Customers appreciate the flavour and knowledge that they are choosing a healthy option.
How long have you been attending the Hastings Farmers’ Markets and the Foreshore Market?
We’ve just started attending. They provide us with the opportunity to discuss the way we produce our food with interested shoppers and to ‘put a face’ to some of our customers whom we hadn’t met before … also to meet fellow producers, many of whom have been very friendly.
How else can people source your produce?
Our Facebook and Twitter links are on our website: www.kindeevalleyfarm.com.au. Phone: 6587 4353, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our eggs are also available from The Grower’s Market, Ken Little’s Fruit and Veg and the Wauchope IGA. Orders for our meat can be placed at Essential Ingredients and Hastings Fruit and Vegetables.
Thanks Brian and Kerry.