Mission: To produce quality ESPwool® within a thriving business, that is earth, people and animal friendly, whilst positively impacting society and the environment.
Sustainability and Responsibility
We acknowledge that historically agriculture was a driver for biodiversity loss and it is our privilege to actively manage the land to redress this and be the solution. We use evidence based regenerative practices, tracking the changes, to confirm improvements.
We respect the spirit of the land, guard old trees and uncleared land. Nature has control of the riparian areas and we actively restore native flora and encourage native fauna to reclaimed sites. We read nature with skills learnt and handed on to us by our forebearers. We watch bird migration and nesting times, bird nest numbers, ant activity, where and when the springs run to understand the seasons to expect.
To enhance the environment we:
- fenced out 21 hectares of habitat for the endangered Australasian Bittern.
- have identified areas of high ecological significance and fenced them off, to exclude stock. This includes remnant vegetation, predominantly along the Winslow Gorge, waterways and revegetating the banks providing a wonderful Wallaby habitat.
- plant at least 1 km of tree plantations, from locally sourced seed, annually. This has resulted in increased biodiversity, notably koalas and bees.
- pasture mass is maintained above a total of 1,000 kg DM/ha which ensures the surface movement of water, nutrients and soil is greatly reduced. We rotational graze pastures to optimum heights and prevent weeds invading pastures (grazing too short can allow broadleaf weeds to invade). Ground cover is kept above 95% which prevents erosion.
- Kia Ora has dung beetles which bury manure.
- stock are watered by troughs to protect the waterways.
- we do frequent soil tests and only fertilise to achieve our target Olsen P (17-22) and to provide any other elements the soil needs. We track our increasing soil carbon levels.
- we only crop to control weed and improve pasture. This is a 3-4 year program, starting with a disc plough to bury weed seed, as we sow annual crops, drill in oats/annual rye and end with a mixed species perennial pasture (phalaris, fescue, rye grass, three clovers – direct drilled).
- we are avid recyclers. Reusing and repurposing is the norm with a contractor taking any excess.
- On the first of Spring each year, we plant a tree along side protected sites to acknowledge the area and our luck.
We knew the systems and processes we developed were more than ticking boxes for various quality schemes and took the time to quantify what we do. This resulted in our Ethical, Sustainable, Profitable wool production plan (ESPwool®), which captures our holistic approach to farming.
We exceed all animal welfare and Livestock Producer Assurance (LPA) legislation and standards. To ensure flock health we use evidence based best practice, seek advice from our consultant at the Mackinnon Project, University of Melbourne and call on other expertise as appropriate.
We are proud to be an accredited SustainaWOOL and Authentico supplier. SustainaWOOL certifies minimum sustainabilty standards within wool production and provides integrity and traceability to consumers. Authentico also ensures a transparent supply chain from farmgate to wooltops.
Kia Ora is also accredited under the Responsible Wool Standard. This is a voluntary global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on.
To ensure flock well-being we respect the five domains and freedoms for animals: These are frameworks by which animal welfare can be measured and provides clarity of expectations for animal welfare and development.
Specifically our sheep are free range and we monitor sheep health closely keeping ewes above score 2.5. We only drench when worm egg count (WEC) is raised. We use pain relief for procedures (we do not muelse), do not shear the hocks (below the knee) to reduce risk of injury, use cover (snow) combs for young stock and if shearing in cooler weather. Lambs are not shorn. We shear adult sheep every nine / ten months – to ensure the sheeps comfort, wool is not over length and is suitable for high end processing. Our sheep birth naturally and we only interfere if absolutely necessary. We work with nature so lambing is in spring (September) as the feed is abundant and the weather warms. Summer crops are direct drilled, as part of pasture rejuvenation and to wean lambs onto. Proper animal health, quarantine (Bio-security) and welfare practices are followed.
Tradition: Our elders were farmers in Australia, Ireland and England. We acknowledge their care of the land and animals. Like them, we farm sheep, appreciating their quality wool. We respect biodiversity especially old trees and protection of uncleared natural sites. The iconic Australian Merino is our passion.
We value traditional knowledge and our good fortune.
Community: As a family business we provide for the safety and well-being of our stock, contractors and employees and work beside them to demonstrate safe practice and our care. We support our regional area by sourcing farm inputs locally, employing local contractors, respecting the Gunditjamara land and appreciating the vital role agriculture has for humanity. Wool has a global community and we are active participants, sharing and learning to ensure best practice and care.
Our philosophy and story is shared by Wolfgang Scout, Australia.
Methane, Carbon, Biodiversity and ESPwool®
We recognise the Lifecyle of wool includes the interlinking of inputs to grow the raw wool, its processing, manufacturing and the final disposal of the wool product. We contribute to deliberations and wait for parameters and definitions of the HIGG, PEF, LCA, Carbon and Methane measures and targets etc. We have no plans to sell or buy carbon and focus instead on doing our very best to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestion.
It is with confidence and pride that we grow our ESPwool® (Ethical Sustainable Profitable wool production). Our farm operates in a holistic paradigm where methane produced cycles, carbon is sequested. This is within a complex growing environment, supporting enhanced biodiversity, where biosecurity protocols are followed, animal welfare is ensured, and regenerative practices used – all according to evidence based best practice. To demonstrate this work, as we move towards carbon constraints, we established our baseline in 2023 and have a plan to progress improvement. The calculator used: A Greenhouse Accounting Framework for Beef and Sheep properties based on the Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory methodology: Ekonomou A., Dunn J., Wiedemann S., Eckard R. (2020). Beta version by Integrity Ag and Environment, updated Feburary 2022.
Kia Ora Fast Facts:
- The Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers project, in which we particpated, quantifed the ecosystem services and economic benefits provided by dung beetles, reported 2022. https://www.dungbeetles.com.au/
- Four Birds on Farms survey sites allocated on Kia Ora 2021, counts continue quartlerly.
- Kia Ora was Winner Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year, Australian Biosecurity Awards 2020.
- Kia Ora was Meat & Livestock Australia Sustainable Producer of the Year, Lambition Awards 2020.
- Recognised as a Face of Business Victoria https://faces.business.vic.gov.au/faces/kia-ora-merino/
- Winner Small and Medium Enterprise and the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award 2019, Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards, for our cross-operational commitment to sustainability.
- Accredited as the 58th Victorian sanctuary, under the Wildlife Land Trust
- Awarded Land for Wildlife status, a voluntary conservation program aiming to support and enhance flora and fauna on private land, alongside production. https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/protecting-wildlife/land-for-wildlife
- Established the Best Food and Fibre Environment Group Inc., and work with extended family and friends to protect remnant vegetation and improve the environment.
- We are an Australian Platypus Monitoring Network site monitoring https://www.platypusnetwork.org.au/home
Kia Ora is renowned for its magnificent fine wool and sustainable practices. We strive to find the perfect balance between farming, lifestyle, family and the environment. Please let us know if you would like to share your insights or have any questions.
Kia Ora Merino wool is always welcome back to Kia Ora. We bury all items made with our ESPwool® when it can no longer be used and it is ready to decompose.