Holistic farm couple spend $22m on Wykeham

Holistic livestock farmers Anna and Michael Coughlan have snapped up one of the prized grazing properties in south-western Victoria after emerging as the $22 million-plus buyers of Wykeham at Dunkeld.

The 1013 ha property, set against the panoramic backdrop of the Southern Grampians and in a reliable rainfall area, was put up for sale for the first time in over 40 years in April by John and Sally Robertson.

Title deeds show the Coughlans placed a caveat over Wykeham at the end of June.

The Robertsons had used Wykeham as a prime lamb breeding and cattle enterprise. It sold offering a carrying capacity of 17,500 dry sheep equivalents.

The Coughlans, who hail from multi-generational farming families, will add Wykeham to their Hereford beef operation Tarabah Pastoral, which incorporates the 4400ha Mt Narra Narra Station near Holbrook (owned by the Coughlan family since 1925) and Tarabah, a 17,000ha property near Morundah west of Wagga Wagga.

The Coughlans are founding members of a farming group called 8 Families in the Gundagai/Holbrook area in the NSW Eastern Riverina, which is committed to using holistic farming management practices (as set out by the Colorado-based Savory Institute founded by Zimbabwean wildlife biologist-farmer Allan Savory) to produce grass-fed beef, lamb and eggs that are completely free of hormones and antibiotics.

After forming 8 Families in 2008, the Coughlans ceased all cropping, haymaking, spreading fertilisers, drenching, vaccinating and using pesticides or herbicides on their properties.

The result, according to Mr Coughlan’s comment on the 8 Families website, was that their animals and land were ‘‘healthy and resilient’’.

‘‘We have completely nullified soil movement and therefore erosion. In general our biodiversity is so much better,’’ he said.

The Coughlans declined to comment on their latest acquisition of Wykeham. The sale was brokered by Ken McDonald and Matt Poustie of HF Richardson Livestock and Property.

At over $22,000 a hectare, it was a headline sale for the district…….

Larry Schlesinger

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