Highfield Farm & Woodland is a special place. We combine small-scale, ethical and sustainable farming with the conservation of one of Australia's critically endangered habitats.
We farm one-third of Highfield, raising beautiful Dorper Sheep for high-quality lamb, Dexter cattle and pasture-raised Chickens for eggs. The remaining two-thirds of Highfield is reserved for the conservation of Box Gum Grassy Woodland, a habitat that sustains many vulnerable and endangered species of plants, animals and birds.
We (David and Louise) are escapees from Sydney. We ran away for a better life close to our beloved Snowy Mountains.
We are really 'foodies' that have become farmers by accident in search for great tasting and ethically-raised food. We believe in slow food right from the moment our animals are born. We have a strong commitment to the welfare of our animals. We use low-stress stock handling techniques to move our animals, we don't feed our sheep or cattle grain to 'finish' them, we don't hurry their growth. Good food takes time and with time it tastes better.
Shhh, don't tell anyone, but we are also 'greenies'... We believe that small-scale farming and environmental conservation can go together. We are so delighted to be custodians of our conservation area which provides habitat for rare and endangered birds.
Highfield is a small-scale farm which aims to combine ethical and sustainable farming practices with the conservation of critically endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodland. We farm only one-third of the 820 acre property, with the remaining two-thirds left as protected woodland.
Our sheep and cattle are grass-fed only on mostly native pasture. We do not use growth promotants or hormones.
At Highfield we run Dorper sheep, a breed developed in South Africa from Dorset Horn sheep and Black-headed Persian sheep. Dorpers are hardy and do well on native pasture. With their black heads, chunky bodies and horizontal ears, they’re good to look at, and best of all, they produce fantastic marbled lamb.
You can be assured that they are grass-fed. We do not feed them grain or send them off to feedlots to 'finish'.
It is a priority for us to have relaxed animals. We move our sheep quietly on foot without dogs, motor bikes or 4-wheelers using low-stress stock handling techniques. We do not remove the tails of our sheep and we do not wean our lambs – the ewes do that. Lambs are processed at our closest facility in Gundagai and cut expertly by our local Gundagai butcher.
We are in love with our mini herd of Dexter cattle. Dexters are a small breed of dual-purpose (providing milk and meat) cattle from Ireland. Once a rare breed, they are now classified as recovering. Our girls are Geranium, Dora, Hazel, Calendula and Violet. We have also just welcomed new calves – Pansy, Rusty and Coco.
We occasionally have beef for sale. Our beef, like our lamb, is entirely grass-fed on mostly native pasture. We aim to expand our cattle herd in 2018 so that we can offer our beautiful beef weekly via local Farmers’ Markets. That’s the aim. We will keep you posted.
Our chickens - a mixed flock of Australorps, White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas and Marans produce fabulous pasture-raised eggs with exceptionally orange yolks. We do not raise ISA Browns or Hi-line Browns - they are industrial chickens and they have short lives due to their prolific egg-laying qualities.
Our hens roost and lay in their own caravan and are moved to a fresh patch of grass each week. During the day they are free to roam and graze on grass, in search of worms and grubs. We supplement their diet with grain and grit.
Our hens lay on straw, not astro-turf. We believe in animals showing their full range of behaviours and fussing over their nest is one of them. We believe that hens expressing their full range of behavious makes a happier hen and a better egg.
Our hens are stocked at 1,000 birds per hectare, significantly lower that the free-range classification of ‘Free-range’ at 10,000 birds per hectare and lower than the RSPCA recommended rate of 1,500 birds per hectare.
Our products are available at:
- Riverina Producers Market in Wagga Wagga each Thursday
- Albury Wodonga Market in Albury every second Saturday
- Yass Community Market and Murrumbateman Village Market when Saturdays allow.
We can arrange delivery to Gundagai, Tumut and Adelong by appointment.
To order in advance, please call us on 0429 985 222 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our grass-fed Dorper Lamb is the 'Wagu' of lamb. You can taste the difference. We offer a range of different cuts for grilling, roasting and for a slow cook. We also occasionally offer fuller-flavoured Hogget and Mutton as well.
From time to time we offer Lamb Pastrami and Lamb Ham.
We make amazing sausages with meat from a whole lamb, herbs from the Highfield garden, and hand ground spices. All our sausages are Gluten and Preservative free.
Flavours currently available:
Rosemary and Black Pepper
Rosemary and Garlic Chives
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Cumin and Fennel
Because there are no preservatives, our sausages are offered for sale frozen.
Our fabulous pasture-raised eggs from a mixed flock of Australorps, White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds and a few Araucanas have exceptionally orange yolks.
Pickles & Ferments
Taken right from our garden, our pickled vegetables are the perfect addition to a meal or a charcuterie board:
Bread and Butter Cucumbers
SALTS & MUSTARDS
We make a range of flavoured salts using salt from the Murray River and hand ground spices and herbs. These salts are free of caking agents and iodine and help to deal with Australia’s inland salinity problems.
Fennel, Orange and Chilli Salt
Cumin and Lemon Salt
We make wholegrain mustards with apple cider vinegar and seasonal herbs.
We like to use as much of our animals as possible. Our soaps utilise the suet from our lambs. Suet once rendered makes tallow and tallow can be used to make soap. Expertly made by our friend Gwen Roberton from Back to Earth Soaps in Wodonga we offer the following gentle to the skin soaps.
Calendula & Bergamot
Sandalwood & Coconut Cream
Honey & Oatmeal
Two-thirds of Highfield is under a conservation covenant protecting one of Australia's rarest habitats: Box Gum Grassy Woodland. This habitat was once common throughout eastern Australia, but since European settlement, up to 80-95% has been cleared for grazing and cropping.
These woodlands now occur mostly in isolated fragments on private land on the western New South Wales slopes of the Great Dividing Range.
Highfield protects one of those precious fragments of woodland. Our woodland is a haven of life and a refuge for the threatened. We have recorded 115 different species of birds on Highfield including the critically endangered Regent Honey-eater and other classic woodland birds such as the Crested Shrike-tit, Brown Tree-creeper, Hooded Robin, Speckled Warbler and Diamond Fire-tail. Wildflowers once common in these woodlands are now returning to the forest floor.
We are given valuable advice and support in our efforts by the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW.
In addition to our protected area of woodland we are also working towards making our farming area wildlife friendly by linking conservation areas through corridor plantings, adding paddock trees and fencing off sensitive drainage lines and grasslands.
Pepe the Maremma (OUR OWN 'ODDBALL')
Pepe is our livestock guardian dog. He is a beautiful pure-bred Maremma, just like 'Oddy' of recent movie fame. He has just had his first year of unsupervised lambing and passed with flying colours. He tells us each morning where the new lambs are, he protects abandoned lambs and chases predatory foxes. So far he has certainly prevented the loss of many lambs to foxes and wild dogs.
The Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata)
Hooded Robins are classified as vulnerable in NSW because their habitat is now rare. They are found in lightly timbered woodland dominated by acacia and/or eucalypts, just the kind of habitat Highfield protects. Even though they are vulnerable we see them pretty much every day.
Adult males are black and white with a black hood and back, white underpants, black wings, white shoulder bar and wing stripe. Females are similar to males but greyer with a brown-grey head and a dark brown wing with a white stripe. They are usually seen in pairs or small groups and are rather shy and quiet.
'Hoodies', as we call them, sit on exposed perches such as dead branches and stumps and pounce on insects. They forage on or near the ground. We leave some fallen wood in our paddocks so that the Hoodies have handy hunting perches. This dad Hoody is supervising bath-time for a baby Hoody at one of our bird baths.
Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra)
Kangaroo grass is a native perennial grass that was once very common across Australia. Bill Gamage, author of The Biggest Estate on Earth, says that this was once the most widespread grass in the country. It is much less common now as it is vulnerable to over grazing.
We are fortunate that Highfield has a fantastic large patch or sward of kangaroo grass and a recent walk thru the area has shown us that the sward is spreading with numerous other patches of this tall grass popping up in new places. It is a wonderfully tall grass which thrives under high temperatures and low rainfall, and it grows and flowers during summer when few other grasses thrive. It's a magnificent dark tan colour too.
We carefully manage the grazing in the paddocks where the kangaroo grass persists to ensure it remains and spreads on Highfield.
Sights and Sounds
Take in the sights and sounds of Highfield - take a tour via these video and audio files.
A Visit to HIGHFIELD 1 - Whitey and the Twins
Follow Producer Gretchen Miller on her visit to Highfield with this set of four audio pieces. Her visit starts with an emergency...
A Visit to Highfield 2 - The Poddies
Gretchen Miller meets the poddy lambs.
A Visit to Highfield 3 - More about Highfield
Gretchen Miller talks to David and Louise to find out more about Highfield Farm & Woodland and the production system they use.
A VISIT TO HIGHFIELD 4 - Whitey and Kombucha
We check Whitey and her twins and make kombucha.