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FOR lawyer-turned-livestock producer Anthea Brown, changing careers was a way to make a difference. Today Anthea runs a livestock farm with her parents, Liz and Neil, in the rolling hills of Toodyay about 90km east of Perth. But 20 years ago Anthea was far from her West Australian wheatbelt home practising law in some of the world’s biggest cities. 

In 2004 Anthea and her parents bought the 880-hectare Toodyay property with a view to focus on a livestock operation.  The family originally ran the farm on a “traditional basis” with about 2500 ewes, a mix of Merinos and SAMMs — South African Meat Merinos — mated with rams. They turned off lambs in summer, selling them at local saleyards.  “When you take into consideration the topography of the farm,” Anthea says, “the way it had been farmed historically, there had to be a better way to farm.  “We struggled to get lambs up to weight, we had to carry them through summer and crop every piece of land for livestock feed.  “We were pushing the land beyond its limits … and it was pushing us in dry summers, the daily feeding regime was hard work.”

The family decided to implement changes.  After much research Anthea converted the entire flock to Dorpers over two years.  “I chose the Dorper breed for its high fertility, strong maternal instincts, shedding, non-selective grazing habits and high meat yield,” she says. “The low maintenance was very attractive — no mulesing or tail docking, reduced flystrike and no shearing.”

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