EWE AND I: Judy Barnet gives a hug to one of her south down sheep.
EWE AND I: Judy Barnet gives a hug to one of her south down sheep. Contributed

Lifestyle of a free-range sheep and pig farmer

JUDY Barnet loves her animals.

She runs free-range pigs and sheep on her 60-hectare property at Glenlyon, east of Texas, with the help of her partner, Richie.

She has eight large black sows and three large black boars and their progeny, as well as 76 southdown ewes and four rams.

She also has 18 shorthorn cattle on agistment.

"At the moment there are 20 bacon pigs just about ready to go,” Ms Barnet said.

"There are also 18 piglets just over a week old.”

Ms Barnet said there had been no large black pigs in Queensland since the 1960s until she bought them in 2001.

"Every large back pig in Queensland would have come from my breeding originally,” she said.

Ms Barnet started farming in Warwick in 1994.

Before that she worked in administration in Brisbane.

"In Warwick I had a small ayrshire stud. I milked those and I was contract calf breeding,” she said.

"I moved to Glenlyon in September 2014, to concentrate on my sheep stud and have a better country for them and have a bigger farm.

"One of the reasons we moved out here is it's such a great life for them.

"It's so sheltered and they can go under the trees. It's a much better life for the sheep and pigs out here.

"The country wasn't suitable for dairy cows so I sold most of those.”

BUFFALO DREAM: Judy Barnet has always wanted a buffalo.
BUFFALO DREAM: Judy Barnet has always wanted a buffalo. Contributed

Six months ago Ms Barnet started her own pork business.

"I mostly do ham and bacon because that's what the large blacks are mostly suitable for,” she said.

"My pigs get killed at Carey Bros abattoir in Yangan and get processed by Boss Meats in Stanthorpe, where they are turned into nitrate-free ham and bacon.

"I mostly sell through the Seasonal Feast Farmers Markets at Warwick and Stanthorpe.”

She sells some of her lambs through McDougall and Sons in Warwick and hopes to have her own stud sale in 2019.

"Most stud sales in Queensland are just rams sales, but a lot of people wanting to start up in purebred or stud sheep are wanting to buy ewes as well,” she said

"So with the numbers I've got now I thought I could have a ram and ewe sale, and people can start themselves.

"I will try and have a sale once a year.”

Ms Barnet wants to create a niche market for her free-range lamb, pork, and beef.

She is hoping to become part of the new Farmgate MSU initiative.

"MSU stands for Meat Slaughter Unit. It's a mobile abattoir,” she said.

"It was started down in Victoria and they're currently in the process of building a truck that comes out to your farm.

"They're going to start their first hub in Victoria but they had a meeting about coming to Queensland where I provided an expression of interest.

"It's the true paddock-to-plate experience. They bring the truck out to your farm and they can kill 55 sheep or 11 cattle a day on the truck.

"So the animals don't suffer any stress, they are killed where they were born basically.”

Willing Workers on Organic Farms is an organisation of which Ms Barnet has been a host since 2004.

People come from all over the world to volunteer working on the farm in exchange for room and board.

"It enables me to learn about people from other places and cultures. They work for about four hours a day for board and lodgings,” she said.

"It's been a great experience for me and we do everything together. If we have a day off we go touring and I show them local attractions.

"Klara, a midwife from Austria is here at the moment, and she's only here for two weeks.

"I had another lady from Germany and she was here for four months. She works in Sydney now and she's coming to visit me with her parents who are visiting from Germany.

"I've had people from South Korea, Switzerland, Scotland, Japan, Germany, Austria and Canada.”

Ms Barnet said her next WWOOFer was coming after Easter and was a butcher from Germany.

Along with her busy farm life, Ms Barnet is also the director of the Rarebreeds Trust of Australia, the secretary and the treasurer of the Queensland branch of the Australian Pigs Breeders Association, and has volunteered for the Highfields Pioneer Village for 18 years.

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