At Goondiwindi Cotton, we love telling stories about our local community and the people that make it so special. This month we are thrilled to share with you the story of Gooralie Free-Range Pork, read more about the Ladner family and their thriving business.
A day in the life of Mark and Charisse Ladner at Gooralie Free-Range Pork, which sits just a little North West of Goondiwindi is a busy, yet relaxed one!
I bet you are wondering, how is that possible? Well for starters, the day revolves around the weather, especially important when it warms up, and let me tell you, it certainly warms up in our part of the world around this time of the year.
The team looking after the farming and production side of the business, headed up by Mark, get cracking nice and early on warm days, this way they can get a lot of the work done before the day heats up, and no undue stress is placed on the pigs.
The pigs are fed a pelletised ration - seven different ones to be exact, (which are milled locally at Woods Stock feeds), AI (Artificial Insemination) is carried out to combat Summer infertility; strawing of the huts and shelters within the paddocks is done as well as a quick check of each of the wallows - which are nice and muddy holes kept wet for the pig's comfort, along with general health checks, weighing and sorting of the pigs that are ready for sale.
There is always plenty to do - this is the busy part!
This system, known as 'The Gooralie Way' is Free-Range, which means access to the outdoors twenty-four hours a day, whereby the pigs are free to exhibit their natural behaviour at all times and really are living their best life. They literally are as happy as a pig in mud - the relaxed part!
Meanwhile, back in the office the administration and sales continue throughout the day, selling the entire branded product direct to market.
Charisse tells us "We have a great team both here on farm and off farm for our sales who are committed to giving the consumer the best eating experience. It is Relax Central up there on the hill on our property and that is why you will taste The Gooralie Difference."
How did all this come about? Gooralie Free-Range Pork was born in 1999 when Mark and Charisse took over and subsequently purchased the family farm.
It was then that reality hit and they realised that if they were going to prosper in the Australian Agricultural industry they would need to diversify the mixed farming operation so that they would not be so reliant upon the weather.
It was Mark's idea to branch into pork, and the couple agreed on three cornerstones before researching and building their Outdoor Piggery.
It was to be Free-Range (in alignment with their other farming practices); Animal Welfare was to underpin the entire operation, as a stress free and all-natural animal equals a tender, succulent and supreme eating article; and they wanted to directly market a legitimate Paddock to Plate story under their brand Gooralie Free-Range Pork, with the highest traceability and accountability for the consumer.
Charisse says "I'm happy to say that twenty years down the track, APIQ certified Free-Range, we feel pleased that we have achieved our vision and pride ourselves on having the system right, offering consistent numbers and quality week-in-week-out, have expanded several times throughout the years and still selling everything directly to our clients under our brand - Gooralie Free-Range Pork.
We have a good combination with Mark heavily focused on production and tweaking its many moving parts with an amazing knowledge of Free-Range Pork. I will never be able to retain what he has in his head and implements, no matter how many times I hear it.
I am more on the sales, marketing, and office side of the business. I have to say, teaching has helped with that. Both roles cannot exist however without the commitment of our fantastic team both here on farm and off site.
Part of the reason the change and growth within our business was possible, I think, is due to the diversity within Goondiwindi and the attitude that you can prosper. Goondiwindi is a small town, with big ideas!
It's both a thriving and uplifting community consisting of many different business. No-one here thinks there is a limit to what you can achieve just because you reside in a small, rural town. It doesn't matter if you are talking grain, beef, sheep, pork, fruit, cotton, machinery, spray rigs, aviation, feed mill, drones, clothing, retail, fabrication, food, business or health and fitness, Goondiwindi is doing it and doing it well. (I add in a disclaimer at this point for anything I just missed I am sorry!)
This makes it easier for us as employers to attract staff. Hopefully, in return, what we do and whom we employ, gives back to Goondiwindi in some way of thanks."
Ned, Tiggy, Bonnie, Charisse, Mark
The Ladner's have created another wonderful success story for Goondiwindi - more proof that with a good plan, hard work and dedication you really can run a world class business from the bush.
A few parting words from Charisse to finish up todays story
"For me, the thing I like the most about Goondiwindi is that it is a go ahead town and a great service centre, but one which remains friendly, not to mention the array of shops! The boutiques and home wares are second to none and I preach to people from interstate they they must come and visit. They will go home with something and they will definitely have had an amazing coffee; crossed into the great state; viewed the river and received many a smile upon their departure.
It's nearly Christmas and here's a plug for the local Foodworks - call Daph NOW for your Gooralie Christmas Ham - do yourself a favour and tickle your fork with Gooralie Free-Range Pork".
Thanks Charisse, we are headed to Foodworks to order our Christmas hams now!
I look forward to bringing you more stories from our region in the coming months - if there is anything you would really love to hear about please hit reply and let us know, as you can probably tell, we really do love shining a light on the many wonderful people in our community!
Written by Tracey Jensen
Want to learn more about Gooralie Free-Range Pork? Head over to their website via the link https://www.gooraliefreerangepork.com.au/