THE fickle nature of cropping can make even the most dedicated of growers question why they do it.
That same question has often crossed the mind of Moonie producers Andrew and Melinda White up until recently.
At first the White's considered moving away from broad acre cropping on their family's property Toongabbie in favour of focusing on their Dorper and crossbred cattle herd.
However, a result for the record books swayed their decision to remain a mixed enterprise.
"I was going to get right away from cropping, but last year was our best year ever and it really made me rethink that position," Mr White said.
"Even this year, we only managed to plant half the wheat we wanted to but it yielded well and was still quite profitable.
"Our last wheat crop was a pretty good one, which made me change my mind a from completely going away from cropping and the threat of things like foot and mouth disease also made me think it was worthwhile continuing.
"We're not going totally out of cropping, but trust me we've certainly had our moments when we have considered it."
After settling on the decision to include cropping in their plans, the Whites began to consider how to best maximise their operation to best suit their livestock herd
"We've put four or five paddocks back into pasture crops because we really wanted more grass country," Mr White said.
"The country that isn't good farming country is what we've decided to put back to grass and the way we did that was by buying a variety of different grass seeds for a multi-species crop.
"It was planted in March this year and it's a mix of Reclaimer Rhodes Grass, Bisset creeping Blue Grass, Premier Digit and Progardes Desmanthus.
"So far it is working out really well and not only provides feed for our livestock but it is improving that country in the process."
Toongabbie has a history of being a mixed enterprise since Andrew's father Raymond drew the block of 1861 hectares in 1960 while working as a carpenter at Cunnamulla.
From there, he married Andrew's mother Margaret in 1966, who still helps run the operation alongside Andrew and Melinda.
Like many sheep operations in the region, Merinos were the breed of choice for many years at Toongabbie, until the Whites moved into Dorpers in 2009 and have since expanded the operation with the construction of an exclusion fence that was funded with the help of a QRIDA loan.
The success of the Whites' Dorper operation was on full display when the family claimed victory at the first Warwick Sheep Selling Agents Association prime lamb competition in November.
"Recently, we bought some cows to replace our original herd but we are going to try and increase our Dorper numbers up to about 1000," Mr White said.
"This year we'll join up to about 650 ewes and another 100 maiden ewes will be joined early next year.
"The hope is we can keep the progeny of those ones and build up to 1000 ewes by the end of next year."
While the operation's cattle is sold locally at the Dalby Saleyards, Mr White said the sheep went further afield.
"We're quite lucky our agent in Tara does a milk run down to Tamworth with the sheep, so we are able to sell them down there," he said.
"Last week we put 140 old ewes on a truck down there and it makes it a lot easier for us to sell it direct to the abattoir.
"As for our cattle, the herd consists of Droughtmaster, Santa Gertrudis and a few Charolais cows in amongst them as well.
"Numbers-wise it just makes more sense for us to sell them locally at Dalby."
As for the future, Mr White said the family would continue to diversify its operation.
"We've always been a mixed enterprise and we're going to stay that way because of the flexibility it offers," he said.
"The cash cropping will mostly be based on what sort of crops offer the best opportunity at the time, while those pasture crops will hopefully continue to improve the country we've planted them into."
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