Allan Roberts and his wife Gail own Valley View farm, located in the Surf Coast region of Victoria, inland from the Great Ocean Road. The family purchased the property in 1998. Having always lived in Williamstown, Allan was finally ready to follow his long-held desire for the farming way of life. While for Gail, Valley View offers them a rural retreat surrounded by beautiful native bushland.
Allan’s love of animals is shared by his family. His daughter Iona, who together with her partner Peter have recently purchased acreage nearby to begin their own small farming enterprise.
Their son Dale, a builder based in nearby Geelong with a passion for energy-efficient Passivhaus design, renovated the weatherboard farmhouse making it incredibly comfortable for his parents year-round. Their farmhouse is the first renovated house in Australia to receive full Passivhaus certification, an achievement Allan and Gail are both immensely proud of.
Their youngest daughter Penny now lives interstate and provides Allan and Gail with a welcome reason to pack up the caravan and hit the road for an occasional break from the farm.
“I love my cattle, and breeding them, but its always upset me to see them leave the property. Not knowing where they are going and how they are being treated. With Provenir I have full control and can ensure their welfare throughout their entire life.”Allan Roberts
Farm fast facts
|Farm Name||Valley View|
|Farm Size||235 acres|
|How many cattle?||13 breeding cows, breeding up to 25 head every two years. Raising a mix of heifers and steers.|
|Who works on the farm?||Allan Roberts with support from family and farming friends.|
|Favourite beef meal?||Steak on the fire.|
|Why Provenir?||The process is very humane and stress-free for the animals.|
Why we farm
A love of all animals and the lifestyle
Allan always held fond memories of spending time on his uncle’s dairy farm near Cobden when he was a young boy. It was during this time spent on the farm that he developed a love of cattle and the farming way of life.
While Allan pursued a business career, he went on to own several retail stores, however his love of animals and farming remained strong. In 1998 the family purchased Valley View, and while Allan admits he was “a little green behind the ears” he was taken under the wing of a well-respected farmer in the region who got him started with cattle and provided great mentorship over the years.
Today Allan and Gail feel right at home on the farm which they share with a thriving assortment of wildlife including the kangaroos, echidnas, kookaburras, parrots, a pair of wedgetail eagles, fish in the dam and even the snakes are spoken of with respect for their place in the landscape.
“Now that I’ve worked with Provenir, I never want to send my stock off in a truck to the unknown again.”Allan Roberts
Valley View lives up to its name
From the road the name Valley View seems somewhat surprising, looking out over tree-lined paddocks the land looks incredibly flat, but as we take a drive over to meet the cows the land gives way to a beautiful deep and vegetated valley, spotted with dams and a windmill to pump the water back up to the cattle troughs.
Valley View farm was formed following the subdivision of a larger property and acquisition of adjoining bushland, it now comprises of about 200 acres of grazing land and another 35 acres of natural coastal bushland which is protected under the Surf Coast Planning Scheme.
Every cow has a name
Valley View operates as a small cattle farming enterprise, although Allan jokes that the property also supports its fair share of kangaroos, but he accepts the land is their territory too since the property is surrounded by natural hinterland. Allan enjoys showing guests, particularly his international friends, around the farm.
Allan has a love of all animals, but his bond with his small herd of breeding cows is the strongest. Each of the breeders has a name, starting with his favourite Gail, named after his wife, the others are named after his wife’s friends.
The herd is primarily Angus cattle, with one Murray Grey cow amongst the mix (Regis). A neighbours Angus bull is borrowed when required to service the cows, which calve every year or two. The heifers stay on farm to build up the herd, while Allan likes to raise the steers for at least two years before slaughter, giving them a good life on the farm.
Prior to working with Provenir the steers would be sent off to traditional markets, to the sale yards, or purchased by the abattoirs. For Allan there was no other alternative, and while he loved raising his cattle, he always hated sending them off, not knowing where they were going or how they would be treated. Especially due to the immense volume and pressure of traditional meat processing and his family oppose live export.
Calm and curious cattle.
Allan’s love of animals is clear in the way he works with and handles his cattle. When Allan wants to check on his cattle or move them on to fresh pasture, he calls to them, leading the herd with his voice.
The cattle are regularly brought into yards where Allan can check on their health, assessing their hooves to ensure they are in good order and treating the cattle with drench only when required.
During calving Allan will check on the cows at least three times a day to ensure they are calving with ease or provide aid if required.
The relationship that Allan has with his cattle is unlike anything the Provenir team have seen before. He moves amongst the herd with ease and they are calm and curious in his presence.
Valley View is typical of coastal environment, set on sandy loam with some clay underneath.
Allan is a member of the local Landcare group, and over the years has worked to eradicate weeds and pests on the property.
Several dams, natural bushland areas and wetlands on the farm have been fenced off from cattle to allow for natural regrowth, biodiversity and to prevent erosion and destruction. All water used on site is collected from natural rainfall in tanks and in the valley via a series of dams. Windmills are utilised to pump the water back up the valley into troughs to supply the cattle with fresh drinking water.
For many years, the farm hosted composting windrows managed by a local compost company. Organic materials including tree pruning, chicken manure and seaweed were composted on-site for around six months, before a portion of finished compost was purchased back by Allan and spread out on the paddocks to help improve the soil and pasture.
Allan opts for natural inputs to promote healthy soils and grass growth such as adding the compost, rotational grazing, avoiding over-stocking, and utilising the purely grass-fed cattle which graze freely on native pastures.