Masterclass 1/3: The "What" and "Why"

Balancing Profits & Sustainability

Striking The Perfect Balance at Wilmot Cattle Co.

Stuart Austin is the kind of grazier who likes to strike a balance. When it comes to the properties under Wilmot Cattle Co. – a duo of grass-fed beef farms nestled high in the stunning New England Tablelands in New South Wales, Australia – he’s always maintained that “balancing financial profitability with ecological gains is absolutely at the core of everything we do”.

As a strong advocate of regenerative agriculture – and an award winning one, at that –  Stuart spends just as much time thinking about the condition of the land as he does acting on enriching it. At Wilmot Cattle Co., grazes are planned based on factual data, rather than just gut feel. To do this right, Stuart had selected MaiaGrazing as his decision support tool as it was designed to elevate the theory of planned grazing, such as that taught in RCS’ GrazingforProfit™ School, into practice.

The realities of drought

It hasn’t always been easy though. Wilmot Cattle Co. was hit hard by the 2019-2020 bushfire season, with half of their feed consumed by the flames. “We were plunged into instant drought,” says Stuart of that period, but by February 2020 the land’s ecological rebound was clear.

Where there was once blackened hillsides and a mosaic of destruction, the pastures of Wilmot Cattle Co. were once again that deep New England green. As a technology company built to help grazing communities regenerate their lands, we’re all too familiar with the challenges that Stuart faced. Together, we supported Stuart’s vision of rebuilding Wilmot Cattle Co. from the ground up. The confidence we gave Stuart to leverage his properties’ data, combined with his astute knowledge of grazing, gave rise to better days. Again, Austin’s preference for striking a balance is clear, and 2020 has turned out to be Wilmot’s most profitable year.

Leveraging the science of grazing

The most powerful elements of MaiaGrazing for Stuart are the analytics and forecasting tools that help him to manage his stock levels relative to his established benchmarks. “That is critical to us – month to month, year in year out,” he says.

During Maia Field Day 2020, Stuart invited other graziers to tour the grounds of Wilmot Cattle Co. for themselves. Here, he spoke at length about the things graziers can control, and those they can’t. Quoting one of his mentors, Bud Williams, Stuart says:  “Nobody ever went broke from having too much grass or too much money. But a lot of people have gone out of business from having too many cattle”. This observation highlights the importance of matching carrying capacity to stocking rate – which is a goal that we at MaiaGrazing support.

MaiaGrazing is an “absolutely integral part of our day to day operations here,” says Stuart. Between the team’s expertise of the land and their nimble adoption of technology tools such as MaiaGrazing, Wilmot Cattle Co. has achieved what others may find enviable: a well-performing, well-run business that is winning across the triple bottom line. Stuart often finds himself telling people, “we wouldn’t manage Wilmot without MaiaGrazing”.

Making high-roller decisions with confidence

To Stuart, partnering with MaiaGrazing essentially pays for itself – and then some – as he’s often making six or seven figure decisions based on the forecasting generated off MaiaGrazing. “When we’re able to confidently make those decisions, and execute them, the cost of the software subscription is completely insignificant,” he asserts.

The way that Stuart has harnessed MaiaGrazing is inspiring; something that makes him recognized as the inaugural subject of our Champions of Grazing Innovation series.

To find out more about the impact that MaiaGrazing has on Stuart, watch this video which beautifully captured Wilmot Cattle Co.:

You can find out more about Stuart’s approach to tackling his grazing challenges in the next masterclass.

Meanwhile, if you’re feeling less than confident with your grazing decisions lately, let’s have a conversation to see if MaiaGrazing can help. Pick a time here