Milawa Organic Beef follows green path to success

The Wood family have farmed in the Milawa Gourmet Region since 1874, for many years running dairy cattle while also growing tobacco and nuts.

When Alan Wood, an engineer, returned to his parent’s Markwood farm in the early 80s he and pharmacist wife Leanne were determined to produce clean, healthy food.

Although following biological farming principals for 30 years it wasn’t until 2009 the Woods started the organic process to become certified with the Biological Farmers of Australia.

Three years later Milawa Organic Beef became certified.

“We were already doing a lot of things so it wasn’t that much of a step to actually become certified,” Leanne Wood said.

“We were nearly organic we thought we should take advantage of it and become certified organic.

“Everybody is thinking about organics and grass fed, people are a lot more health conscious, so I think our timing is good for the organic side of things.”

The Woods runs 110 Angus cows and calves on 200 hectares across three blocks in the Milawa district, and with an average rainfall about 700mm, animals graze year round without the need for grain.

Stock is processed at a certified organic abattoir at Warragul and returned for distribution direct to the public via online sales, as well as Milawa and Violet Town produce markets.

Milawa Organic Beef is also available at Almar Organics, Lavington, and Snow Road Produce, Milawa, while the Woods also supply Tom Niall’s The Organic Meat Specialist in South Melbourne.

The organic approach has led to a reduced carbon footprint, meat with higher Omega 3 and other health benefits and quiet stock.

“Recently we've been processing some of the steers and they’ve marbling very well and they’re only 14 months old,” Alan Wood said.

“And they will marble satisfactorily provided they’re on good nutrition from birth to slaughter, and on this property we’re able to maintain green growth through their entire life.”

Mr Wood said a lot of attention was given to his soil and uses a cover cropping program to create plant diversity.

“A lot of people as well as buying ethically produced healthy products they also want to know you’re doing something about carbon footprint,” he said.

They also spot graze.

“We have a bit of irrigation which helps during the summer,” he said.

“The aim is to have an active soil to mobilize nutrients in that soil. Dung beetles are doing their work, they are terrific at managing flies and parasites.

“We graze for a maximum of five days and then don’t come back to that area for at least 30, it makes it hard for the life cycle of parasites.

‘It also gives the grass a chance to grow, if you don’t graze heavily you’ve got a better chance of growing carbon.”