Wargoona Farm - Peter and Rosy Billings, Winchelsea VIC (Western)
Peter Billings has a more than interesting resume – from a chef, baker and owner of a Brumbies Bakery for 5 years, to now flying the flag as an Angus producer, writes Zoe Moroz, Stock and Land, 22 August, 2011.
For the Winchelsea farmer, the decision to move to the country 10 and-a-half years ago for a farm change was an easy one.
“I had two small children I didn’t know because of the hours I was working in the bakery,” Mr Billings said. “It was quite a change, but I don’t think we’d ever go back.” The lifestyle suits the family of six – Mr Billings and his wife Rosy and their four children James, 17, Joanna, 15, Christopher, 12, and Laura who has just turned 10.
The family’s property, Wargoona, at foot of the Otways just south of Winchelsea, is owned by Mr Billings’ father in law. “Mr father in law wanted to know if anyone in the family wanted to give farming a go,” Mr Billings said. The then family of five packed up their life in Melbourne to try their hand at farming. After an intense year of study through Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) at Yan Yean, Mr Billings worked as a farm manager and was employed by his father-in-law for five years before taking over the property.
Mr Billings runs 250 Angus breeders as well as 100 weaners on their 541 hectare property.
The decision to use an Angus bull about 15 years ago saw a gradual change from a predominantly Hereford herd to Angus. “It was a marketing decision – Angus were making a $50 a head premium,” Mr Billings said.
Since the change, emphasis has been placed on genetic improvement directed towards breeding better steers.
Cows are joined in mid November for a six week calving period from August-September. Last year 150 heifers were artificially inseminated, while 80 cows were joined for six weeks, returning a conception rate of 100 per cent, the remaining 40 cows returned a 92% conception rate.
The Wargoona Angus gene pool received a ramp-up when Mr Billings joined Team Te Mania nine years ago.
“Team Te Mania gives us access to good genetics through premium quality lease bulls and we regularly turn over genetics,” Mr Billings said.
Photo of Peter Billings, and article courtesy of The Stock and Land.
- Team Te Mania member since 2001
- Calving: Spring