Chatsworth House is a 2,400-hectare property in Western Victoria, run by Sarah and Tom Whinney, who had only moved there in 2020 from ‘Mount Hamilton’, are loving family life at Chatsworth House with their three young children, Jane, Ed, and George.
Inspired by Gabe Brown, Stuart Austin, Charlie Arnott and many others working in the regenerative farming space, Sarah and Tom’s purpose is “Bringing together people, plants and animals for a better future”.
“We care deeply about the environment and want to do our bit by farming ethically and drawing down the carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in our soils.”Tom and Sarah Whinney
Sarah and Tom and the team at Chatsworth House are committed and passionate about farming in a way that is profitably regenerating the landscape to create an ecosystem that is ever increasing in resilience and diversity. They respect the interconnectedness of nature and believe that they can work with people, plants, animals to build healthy soils, leading to healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people and contribute towards tackling climate change. They trust the work they do will be an inspiration for others so that together we can create a better future for everyone.
“We share the same values and ethics as Provenir. We both aspire to have a positive environmental impact, keep livestock in a state of low stress and provide healthy food for people.
Provenir also provides full traceability and the opportunity to co-brand our beef produce, so we can share our story with people that eat our beef.”Sarah and Tom Whinney
Farm fast facts
|Farm Name||Chatsworth House|
|Farm Size||2,400 Ha|
|How many cattle?||200-300 Angus and AngusX|
|Who works on the farm?||Sarah and Tom Whinney – Owner/Managers
Jared Baldry – Assistant Manager
Kyle Allen – Farm Hand
Daniel Ryan – Capital Project Manager
Robin Tait – Soil and Plant Agronomist and Regen Officer.
|Favourite beef meal?||Sarah and Tom both enjoy a Scotch fillet steak.|
|Why Provenir?||Sarah and Tom are thrilled to work with the team at Provenir, who share their values of having a positive environmental impact, low stress stock handling and providing healthy food.
Further, the full traceability and co-branding opportunity that Provenir provides allows the Whinney family to share their story and continue producing high-quality produce from their farm in a way that benefits the world.
Why we farm
A connection to the land
Tom is a first-generation farmer; he grew up on the coast living at Ocean Grove. Following a stint working as a Jackaroo in North Queensland, and studying Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne, he began his farming journey and career of farm management in Western Victoria.
Sarah grew up on her family’s farm, ‘Wirrinourt’, providing her with a connection to agriculture since she was young. Sarah loved growing up at ‘Wirrinourt’, which is located about 40km’s north of Chatsworth House, and which her family still run.
Sarah attended the University of Melbourne, where she met Tom, and graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) and a Bachelor of Commerce. Sarah then worked with NAB in their Agribusiness team for several years, before her and Tom returned to the family business in 2009, when they moved to the property Mount Hamilton, which they developed and loved for ten years.
In early 2020, they decided it was time to move and said goodbye to Mount Hamilton and moved their young family and farming business to ‘Chatsworth House’.
“Our vision is to bring together people, plants and animals for a better future”Tom & Sarah Whinney
Hard work, dedication and smart decisions of a Scottish lad
The Chatsworth House story begins with John Moffat a 22-year-old Scottish lad who arrived in Australia with little education and next to no capital. Through sheer hard work, dedication, canny stock-breeding and shrewd land acquisitions, in 1858 he eventually became the proud owner of a property named “Hopkins Hill’.
In 1859 John Moffat began the two-year long construction of the homestead that would become known as ‘Chatsworth House’. Moffat named his new home after the grand home of the Duchess and Duke of Devonshire in Derbyshire, England.
Throughout his life Moffat remained a bachelor, he purchased many more land holdings and built up a successful business. In 1870 at the age of 53 John Moffat died aboard a ship returning from the United Kingdom.
Following his death the estate was divided into eight lots and sold in 1903, with one of those being the property ‘Chatsworth House.’
Since then, the history of ‘Chatsworth House’ has only been enriched with the stories of the numerous and unique owners. Today Tom and Sarah are excited to be the current custodians of ‘Chatsworth House’.
Special thanks and acknowledgement to Richard Allen author of “Great Properties of Country Victoria; the Western District’s Golden Age” – Melbourne University Publishing.
“Provenir’s on farm processing, builds on our values of low stress stock handling and producing quality produce from our regenerative farming system!”Sarah & Tom Whinney
Black Angus cattle and AngusX
Sarah and Tom Whinney have a herd of Angus and AngusX cattle. They have chosen this breed as the cows are known to be very good mothers and Angus beef is renowned for its lovely marbling and eating quality.
Sarah and Tom raise a breeding herd based from a small group of cows from the Banongil dispersal at Skipton and bulls from Bowmont and Te Mania studs. Good maternal characteristics, growth, structure and temperament are qualities they look for when selecting for breeding or buying cattle.
Mixed mobs for better cattle, and environmental health
At Chatsworth House the welfare of livestock and health of the environment is of upmost importance and intricately linked.
Cattle are kept in mobs of mixed age groups and RCS’s six principles of regenerative grazing are used in their high density rotational grazing system, thus allowing plants adequate time to rest between grazing, creating ‘animal impact’ (hoof action and manure deposits) and managing for diversity, to positively impact the environment.
The cattle are handled using Low Stress Stock (LSS) handling techniques to ensure that the animals are as healthy and relaxed as possible. The cattle graze on a mix of phalaris and sub-clover based multi-species perennial pastures and multi-species fodder crops. This is a wonderful diet for the livestock as it includes all the necessary vitamins and minerals, and the cattle love it.
The family also run 15,000 composite ewes, breeding prime lambs for the domestic market.
Soil health and building soil carbon
The Western District of Victoria experiences cool wet winters and hot dry summers with autumn and spring providing the bulk of the pasture growth at Chatsworth House, which is situated on the Hopkins River, 60km’s east of Hamilton.
In line their philosophy and understanding that carbon is an essential building block of all ecosystems, Sarah and Tom are focusing on improving their soil health and building the soil carbon levels. In fact, they have recently registered a Soil Carbon Project through the Emissions Reduction Fund and completed soil carbon baseline testing. Increasing their soil carbon levels will lead to improving the water holding capacity and infiltration rates of their soil, whilst maintaining pasture cover to limit runoff and evaporation of water from their land.
As part of this strategy, the team at Chatsworth House, are working hard at improving their reticulated water system and subdividing paddocks to improve the care of their cattle and improve soil health. Additionally, they also try to minimise their usage of chemicals and synthetic fertilisers, so as to keep the paddocks healthy and have their cattle’s exposure to chemicals kept to a minimum.
To build on all of this, Sarah and Tom are currently looking at incorporating Natural Sequence Farming techniques into their farming operations, as they believe it will play a large role in helping regenerate the landscape and improve the natural water cycle and health of the farm.