Having had a dynamic career in international health development, Chris is now focusing her energies establishing a small Boer goat stud in Southern Tasmania.
Chris, new to both Tasmania and farming, is the 2020 recipient of the Tasmanian Women in Agriculture Sprout Scholarship. My husband Davide and I, were fortunate enough to spend a weekend with Chris and her partner Colin on Beaupre farm to explore the property, meet the goats and chat about how and why they find themselves farming Boer goats on the Beaupre Penninsula at the confluence of the Huon River.
Some of the does saying hello
How and When Did You Make the Decision to Farm Goats in Tasmania?
Beaupre Farm is a 40-acre property located in the Huon Valley approximately 55 kms south of Hobart. The southernmost property boundary adjoins the coastal strip of Gourlay’s Bay. The western boundary neighbours native forest and one of southern Tasmania’s largest blueberry farms. The farm has 5 unique ecosystems including an endangered Eucalyptus dry forest and woodland, beach and billabongs. However, on purchasing the property 2-years ago I realised the need to eradicate from some very sensitive environmental areas, heavy infestations of weeds of national interest/declared weeds including gorse, Spanish heath and blackberries.
I am committed to sustainable, regenerative farming practices and have a long-term goal to be organic. I established a Landcare community group and while developing our weed management strategy realised that goats would be an effective part of our plan. This is where our interest in goats began. Further research demonstrated that there was an unmet need for chevron and capretto. The best goats for commercial meat production are the South African Boer goat and Tasmania only has a fledgling Boer Goat Industry. I want to produce good quality goats for commercial meat production as well as to breed full blood Boer goats for the international market. In November 2019, I purchased 22 full blood Boer goats (20 does and 2 bucks) and became Southern Tasmania’s only registered Boer Goat breeder.
Doe herd enjoying the view on Beaupre Farm
What Did You Do Before You Started Farming?
I opened my guest accommodation business last year. My ultimate goal is for families to enjoy a farm experience while exploring our diverse landscape and be amazed at the abundant Tasmanian wildlife. I want families to enjoy a paddock-to-plate experience and produce from our vegetable patch, herb garden and orchard is made available to guests as part of their accommodation package.
I continue to consult part-time overseas. I have worked in International development for the last 15-years designing and implementing health information systems including surveillance, hospital, epidemic, research, routine program such as malaria and HIV, monitoring and evaluation, civil registration and vital statistics systems so that governments can improve health sector performance and the provision of quality health services.
Why Do You Farm? What are Your Values and Purpose Around Farming?
I am passionate about being responsible custodians of our land and am committed to sustainable, regenerative farming practices. I want to leave the property in a better condition for the enjoyment of future
I plan to rotationally graze our goats on mixed crop pastures. This will remove carbon from the atmosphere and place it back into the soil. Goats are ruminants whose stomachs have the ability to ferment plants through special microbial actions resulting in a potent manure which is a valuable fertiliser. Their hooves also aerate the soil.
Chris and her Border Collie Beau
Our goats will live a stress-free, healthy, outdoor life, have great coastal views and roam under the sun and in the fresh air.The goats will graze and socialise naturally as part of a herd. The land benefits, our weed problem is diminished, and I hope to be able to produce some of the finest goat meat in Tasmania.
What Have Been Some of your Biggest Challenges?
Selecting good quality breeding stock. With no practical experience, I had to rely on what I read in books. Thankfully, the people from whom I purchased our stock were very willing to share their knowledge and understanding. I am constantly humbled and grateful for the willingness of established farmers to share their experience.
What Products Will You Be Offering?
In 2021/2022 I will have Cabrito, Capretto and Chevon.
Cabrito & Capretto: Is young milk-fed kid goat with a carcass weight between 6 and 12kg. The meat is pale pink in colour, very tender and mild in flavour. Premium quality Cabrito (Spanish term) or Capretto (Italian term) is highly desired in traditional Italian, Spanish and Greek cuisine.
Chevon: This (French) term describes prime farmed ‘young goat’, not more than two-tooth and with no male secondary sexual characteristics. The meat is a little redder and the animal is larger than Cabrito or Capretto. Good quality farmed Chevon is also tender, juicy and flavoursome.
What Is Your Vision For The Future?
A farm with no weeds, restored and regenerated ecosystems, rejuvenated and inspired guests, happy goats who produce low fat, highly nutritious, tender and flavoursome meat.
Spectacular Drone Image of Beaupre Farm
How Have Tasmanian Women in Agriculture Supported You Thus Far and How Can We Support You in the Future?
Tasmanian Women in Agriculture is supporting my Sprout scholarship. Sprout is inspiring me by providing opportunity to develop the skills necessary to grow my business. I have few commercial contacts, very limited knowledge and at times an overwhelming feeling of being swamped. Sprout is providing practical hands on experiences and the opportunity to network and feel supported. Continued support to grow my network is what I am most looking forward to as part of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture.
Finally, How Do You Think The Role of Women in Agriculture Has Changed and What Do You Think the Future For Women in Agriculture Looks Like?
There seems to be greater acknowledgement of the role of women in agriculture. However, despite women comprising almost half of the agricultural workforce in Australia, women are significantly under-represented and undervalued in positions of rural leadership and decision making. This limits their access to economic and social resources. Diversity and gender equity are good for business. Those businesses demonstrating equal representation are 15% more profitable which results in stronger impacts on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. A more visible role for women in Agriculture would allow for greater impact on government policy and industry decisions.
In addition, one of the most effective ways to prevent violence against women is to promote gender equality. Women experience family and domestic violence at higher rates in rural communities due to perceived traditional male roles and predominantly patriarchal family structures. With support from organisations such as Tasmanian Women in Agriculture, women will gain the confidence and support needed to engage in leadership roles improving both the economic and social fabric of our society.
For more information about Beaupre Farm or to connect with Christine, you can do so here..