“Grass and ground-cover is our key to restoring nature and keeping our cattle healthy, we’re not really farmers, we're grass growers.” Said Dan Burnham of Burnham Grazing.
A system that is so simple but has been forgotten over years of industrial farming and most probably the reason some consumers believe producing beef in Australia is not eco-friendly. When in actual fact, when done right, it is the key to our climate change issues in the world.
“We work on time-controlled grazing, it’s not rotational grazing, it’s not cell grazing, it’s time controlled grazing so that actually works back to ensuring the grass and plants roots stay intact!” - Said Dan
“If you are to look at it on a micro urban level in your home garden, “time grazing” is about keeping the roots of your plants intact and only cutting the top layer off for it to grow and expand. This helps to keep the roots restored and healthy underneath the soil so you don’t lose carbon from the ground…. carbon stored in the ground keeps everything healthy on top and the only way to do that is by giving the ground rest.” Said Emma-Jane of Burnham Grazing Now looking at this on a macro level on approx. 2400 hectares, you can see that trying to do this with just under 900 head of cattle would have its challenges. At Burnham Grazing that’s exactly what Dan, Emma-Jane and family sought out to do on their land. Dan and Emma-Jane Burnham are farmers and owners of Burnham Grazing and are certified organic and grass-fed beef producers (or as they like to call it clean green-beef Producers). Burnham Grazing is two and a half hours South of Rockhampton and two hours from Gladstone near the town Biloela. Their landscape consists of black soil, softwood scrub, forest country, with running creeks, native bushland, rocky ridges and pockets of rainforest. They have a beautiful range of colours in their herd, red base of brahman, hereford, angus and brangus moving into F1 cross high-quality breeds. So how do you become a certified organic grass-fed beef producer? Well it’s bloody hard, if you ask Dan and Emma-Jane. “It’s not a quick fix, it’s not a fast thing to do, I guess it’s not romantic like that - you don’t get that straight up feeling, but we have pretty flowers so that’s romantic!” Said Emma-Jane The organic certification alone takes several years on average and to get your land restored back from traditional farming methods can take a decade or more. That’s why it is so important to support farmers like Dan and Emma-Jane who are either starting to change their direction or well on their way into regenerative farming methods. (meaning; using farming methods that mimic nature and aim to restore ecosystems). So how does a beef producer claim to produce grass-fed beef? Well Dan and Emma-Jane have been feeding their cattle only grass, finishing on grass with no chemical inputs for years.“We stopped using chemicals about 2012 and it was actually a financial decision to stop because it’s a fair cost to put chemicals out.” Said Dan Dan and Emma-Jane come from fifth and third generation family farms. When Dan’s parents first bought the property they’re on now they were given the freedom to do alternative farming practice trialing and find the best methods to graze it. At the beginning they noticed that their land wasn’t responding to their traditional practices and they began investigating regenerative farming methods. “At the time we were running a few cattle on each paddock and realising that it wasn’t really working for us.” “We were actually losing a lot of groundcover and water” Said Dan In 2006 they started to separate their paddocks and went from 14 to an incredible 50 paddocks in the first couple of years. And now currently have over 80 paddocks with 880 head of cattle! That means on average shifting their cattle almost once per day. Dan and Emma-Jane use a simple philosophy, separate the herd into two mobs. The ‘breeding mob’ and the ‘trader mob’. The breeding mob are slower in the way they live out their life with the young so having them graze slower in paddocks separately seems appropriate. Whereas the trader mobs are more swift and want to move, so they are switched between paddocks more regularly. This helps with maintaining a healthy and prosperous life for all their cattle by syncing their behaviours and characteristics. The herd knowing each day they are going to be transferred into new pastures with fresh grass means they know they are living and having adventure! “You want to be connected to something as a human and as much as we love our people, we love being connected here.” Said Emma-Jane Burnham Grazing follows a consistent mantra and has core values that sets the foundation for producing their grass-fed beef. Family. Quality. Improvement. “You know you’ve progressed in the last ten years when you see photos from back then and you know you’ve made considerable improvements with your grass… We were down 39 percent and now we’re over 95 percent groundcover and showing our kids saying; "This is the photo we took ten years ago and now look at it!” “You can see in their eyes, they light up and understand - that’s just so much more grass!” … “That gets me going because I can see changes and I’m teaching our kids something special.” - Said Dan Over the last 10 years Burnham Grazing have also diversified their business by moving into the Carbon Farming market and seen amazing benefits, particularly in the dry time when rainfall is low and a need to sell off cattle is required. Another income that adds advantage to their overall goal of restoring nature and keeping their animals healthy.
The vision for Burnham Grazing is to keep improving their land and build their organic grass-fed beef brand and have it accessible through more butchers in the supply chain throughout Central and South-East Queensland. You can find Burnham Grazing organic grass-fed and finished beef in the supply partners listed in their profile and coming to a butcher near you in Sunshine Coast and Brisbane regions soon. If you would like to know more about their beef product feel free to reach out to them through our ‘send message’ button above.