GFM Network News


Even as conditions dried out in April, the cover crops hung in to provide feed and weight gain on yearlings.

Cover crops fit in SE Australia

Report from Down Under: Warm-season crops produced excellent gains on grass-fed beef

With rain forecast for the next four days (in early May 2020) I take pen to paper to write about cover crops in southeast Australia. Seeding is well underway for these crops along with cereals, pulses, legumes, forages and others. The rain we are receiving across a wide swath of this part of the country […] Read more

Craig and Woody 
Oliver farm with their sons, Lee and Lachlan.


Meet your farming neighbours: Craig and Woody Oliver

Craig and Woody Oliver and their sons farm in Victoria, Australia

Every farm has its own story. No two farms (or farmers) are exactly alike. Everyone got started in a different way, and every farm has a different combination of family and hired staff who make the decisions and keep things running. But, in general, even after you consider all of the details, farmers are more alike than different, even when they’re on […] Read more


Summer bale grazing may work during the dry grazing season.

Another transplanted grazing idea

Report from Down Under: Bale grazing may have a fit in an Aussie summer

Editor’s Note: Keep in mind seasons in Australia are reversed: spring — September to November; summer — December to February; autumn — March to May, and winter — June to August. In my last article, I shared the trials of our swath-grazing attempts on our farm here in Australia compared to what we had done […] Read more

In this swath grazing experiment, yearlings working their way 
across a paddock where Phalaris was swathed while it was growing, 
with some green regrowth as well.

Testing swath grazing in Australia

The climate is totally different, but the season is the same

Editor’s Note: Keep in mind seasons in Australia are reversed: spring — September to November; summer — December to February; autumn — March to May, and winter — June to August.  Most graziers, at least in Western Canada, equate swath grazing to images of cows with snow on their back line and with frozen muzzle […] Read more


Australia’s electronic marketing system appears convenient and reliable even when making deals an ocean away.

Cattle marketing across the miles

In the Aussie system, agents handle E-auction

Editor’s Note: Keep in mind seasons in Australia are reversed: spring — September to November; summer — December to February; autumn — March to May and winter — June to August. At our grazing operation, Alcheringa Pastoral in Victoria, Australia, we have generally purchased cattle in late spring, after I arrive in October, and sell […] Read more

Moisture and a reduced stocking rate helped pastures to get back into a productive state above and below ground.

Keeping soil biology ticking

Pasture Management: Grazing setbacks happen, but find opportunities to get back on track

Normal weather” at 4 Clover Ranch near Rocky Mountain House, Alta. has been illusive for a couple of years at least and it has created some grazing challenges at the expense of pasture performance. Our planned grazing system, where we look at the health of the grass on an ongoing basis, has responded well over […] Read more


This is a dramatic fence line contrast showing two types of grazing systems. On the left is the pasture of a neighbouring sheep operation with season-long grazing. On the right side of the fence is Kim Nielsen’s pasture used for rotational grazing for yearlings. His pastures get about 180 days of rest between grazing.

Report From Down Under: Holistic approach is working

Management changes for the growing conditions producing benefits

My wife Helen and I took a six-day course a couple of years ago learning the principles of The Savory Institute’s holistic management as they apply to grazing. In a nutshell, the course taught the process of decision-making and planning that give land managers the insights and management tools to understand nature in the restoration […] Read more

Alfalfa and chicory helped carry the cattle through the dry pasture conditions.

Rain at the right time

A sudden turn in moisture conditions made all the difference

I am back up on 4 Clover Ranch near Rocky Mountain House, Alta., having arrived a week ago and getting our custom grazing operation going with cow-calf pairs trucked in as this is written. Meanwhile back at our Alcheringa Pastoral (Australia), Helen happily reported that our steer sale in late May had gone well. We […] Read more


These Hereford steers on another nearby pasture have plenty of forage, however, the quality over the hot, dry summer is declining.

Grazing challenges in a dry environment

Dung scores and gut fill are important indicators of how cattle are doing

When I arrived back in Australia in late October last year, Helen had organized the purchase of some steers and they were happily grazing on our farm and had adjusted well to the electric fence, skim grazing over the new seeding I had seeded earlier in May. October is springtime and the growth was pretty […] Read more

Cow-calf pairs grazing a very productive pasture that has made a tremendous comeback after 14 years of managed grazing.

Restoring vigour to tired pasture

This planned grazing system appears to be returning about $77 per acre

When 4-Clover Ranch, near Rocky Mountain House, Alta. came into existence in 1992, there was one particular pasture close to the farmyard that the previous owner was reluctant to show us. He called it sodbound and needing a good plowing. I hesitated to follow his plowing advice as it had a good southerly slope and […] Read more