The Yarn Producers

First Generation Farmers Show what it takes to Build a Modern Legacy on the Land

PUBLISHED Tue, 13 July 2021

modern legacy on landMost farming properties are steeped in family history, handed down from one generation to the next, but first-generation producers Adam and Jacynta Coffey have shown what it takes to build a modern legacy on the land – and what makes their success all the more impressive is that they didn’t buy a well-established enterprise.

Picture the less-than-idyllic scene. A failed timber plantation in receivership and an unlivable home, two kids and a caravan. This is not the easiest route towards the dream of owning a cattle property.

But the Coffey’s are a remarkable couple who have taken the daunting task of establishing their own cattle property head on with a fresh approach, unshackled by family traditions… and this may just be the key to their success.

Let’s take you back to the beginning. Both Jacynta and Adam grew up in Tasmania, and while they had no connection to agriculture an interest in the industry blossomed through their careers.

Jacynta completed a commerce degree, which led into accounting for a large agricultural enterprise, while Adam initially had the makings of a promising chef, he deviated into jackerooing before strengthening his credentials with a farm business management course.

They decided on a change of scenery and headed to the mainland finding themselves in Western Australia managing a sheep and cropping property for 18 months.

When the property was sold, they were given the opportunity to run a stock camp on 1.5 million acres in the Kimberley for almost four years, which led into further corporate management and a stint on a property near Longreach.

The arrival of their first son took them back to Tasmania before returning to the mainland to a property in the Northern Territory.

“We got the opportunity through a family who were retiring and gave us a shot at their place where we had a profit share deal over three years,” Adam said.

“We bought a lot of cattle on the back of the live export ban, which was pure good timing and luck, and we built those numbers to about 800 cows we kept on agistment on this property.”

This herd, which sold for “substantially more” than the initial investment was the financial foundation the Coffeys needed to buy their own property.

modern legacy on land.JPG 2

“We were prepared to go anywhere, but we had a list of criteria and at the top of the list was not buying someone else’s improvements,” Adam said.

That was certainly fortunate when they found 2,500-hectare “Boreelum” on Queensland’s Central Coast, as the old real estate adage to buy the “worst house on the best street” probably applied.

Abandoned for about a decade, the derelict home leans precariously to one side. As for the land, 400 hectares was a timber plantation the Coffeys soon discovered held no value.

“We bought it from receivers, it was a failed timber plantation, the house was overtaken by wildlife and that was our renovator’s delight,” Adam said.

“There were 400 hectares of sterile hardwood bred specifically to be pulped. We hoped to find some value in it but in the end, it was a liability,” Jacynta added.

“We had a five-year plan where we would then have the capital to start removing trees, but it became apparent all the trees had been taken over by woody weed and it was basically causing more damage by leaving them up, so we borrowed more money and started getting rid of them.”

The Coffeys not only needed to tackle the land but renovate the home while the couple and their two young boys, now 7 and 10, lived in a caravan. Not to mention, Adam was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship during this time which involved trips away, including overseas.

Without the shadows of family farming traditions or opinions, the Coffeys have taken what they have learnt from working on properties across Australia, researched different production techniques and implemented Jacynta’s auditing skills to curate their own way of doing things.

“That freedom to choose and change things up is the greatest benefit of doing it on our own even though there’s all the hardship that comes with it,” Jacynta said.

“We’ve got no family issues or people saying ‘we don’t do that in this area’ or ‘grandad wouldn’t do that’ and we are lucky not to have these restrictions.”

“Getting in was hard, bloody hard, and obviously we run on a thin budget,” Adam adds.

On-going education is important to the Coffeys and Project Pioneer came along just as they were starting their venture at “Boreelum”. The Federally funded Barrier Reef Project allowed them access to training with RCS Australia which has proven invaluable as they navigate building their own business.

Five years on, the family live in the renovated home, have removed about 400,000 plantation trees, installed six bores and subdivided the property from four paddocks to thirty to allow for their cattle to graze as one large mob under rotational grazing methods.

They have introduced multi-species planting, bringing in temperate, cool season plants not usually grown in the tropical Queensland environment to “stimulate soil biology”. With this they have entered into a soil carbon offsetting agreement.

“There’s the potential to make carbon credits to diversify our income,” Adam explained. “We are striving to increase our plant diversity and return organic matter to the soil, so if we are going to do it anyway and someone is going to pay us for it, that’s great, but the main reason is for the production and performance of our paddocks.”

By paying attention to the soils, the Coffeys aim to capture the heavy downpours into the soil, rather than allowing it to run off, and are doing this by drilling in the grasses, rather than going down the traditional path of ploughing, which can destroy the soil structure and runs the risk of losing topsoil.

“We’ve also planted cool species plants and brassicas like turnips, radish and chicory. These deep-rooted brassicas are designed to bust open soils,” Adam said.

“Ultimately, we won’t jag it every year, but if we get out of season rain, we are hoping to help fill the winter feed gap.”

They’re also focused on harmonising three business pillars at Coffey Cattle Co. – the people, the finances and the land.

“All three have to work, the land has to be happy, the people happy and you have to be making money – and with my auditing background everything has to be measured,” Jacynta said.

“We use satellite monitoring technology for monitoring pasture and ground cover, which can tell you what percentage on the ground is photosynthesising.

“It’s interesting as you can see from the air the areas where cattle don’t get to and where a section of the paddock they preferentially graze.”

Coffery Cattle Co

Adam said capturing the data had been a learning curve and it took discipline to implement it, but it helped with their decision making at Coffey Cattle Co.

“By monitoring grass carefully, we can know well ahead of the game if a crash is coming, then we can offload cattle into a market well and truly before it’s been flooded with other cattle when shit hits the fan.”

Jacynta said they also carefully combined the pasture data with rainfall charts to know when to offload stock at the right time.

“You might want to hold on waiting for rain but as much as it hurts to sell cattle, they go out fat and healthy and you’re not stressed about them and whether it will rain.

“We’ve just gone through three years of drought and we haven’t had to feed our animals.”

The Coffeys’ next step will be investing in remote water monitoring and soil moisture probes, while also realising the potential in their paddocks through continued improvements to their perennials and cool season plants.

Despite not having the traditional start into the agricultural industry, the Coffeys have shown if you take an entrepreneurial spirit, resilience and a lot of hard work, it’s still possible to create a family legacy on the land today.

Facebook: cofferycattleco

Twitter: @AdamCoffeyNT & @JacCoffey

Photo Credits: Ben Simpson 

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Producer and Deputy Mayor of Charters Towers Sonia Bennetto talks about the sustainability of the cattle industry and the growth into the future.  With exciting times ahead for beef and the primary production in Australia, Sonia comments on how beef is a key economic pillar for her region in North QLD, where leveraging on very strong cattle prices and an increase in positivity from the sector can show growth and investment.


WATCH: Charlie Perry - Trent Bridge Wagyu

Livestock Editor from The Weekly Times Maddie Stuchbery caught up with Charlie Perry from Trent Bridge Wagyu who spoke about the challenges and opportunities that the industry and in particular producers are facing. 


You can Learn Something from Everyone: Young Judge Ruby Canning

Today we were delighted to chat with Ruby Canning from Outcross, who is also a judge here at Beef Australia. Ruby is excited to be judging not only at an event that is so renowned but also alongside her dad. “It's one of those events that you dream of as a young girl to judge at beef and to be judging with my dad is even more special.”


Meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Beef Australia

On Monday, some of the AuctionsPlus team had the pleasure of meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison during his visit to Beef Australia. Angus Street (CEO), Hugh Courts (Stud Operations) and Ell Simpson (Integrity Manager) are a part of the Beef Connections Program - which aims to connect mentors and mentor partners to grow future industry leaders in the agriculture industry. 


WATCH: The Beef Brekkie Show with Jason Strong, David Hill & Angus Street

AuctionsPlus has teamed up with The Weekly Times to bring you The Beef Brekkie Show during Beef Australia 2021.  Presented live from the AuctionsPlus pavilion, The Beef Brekkie show will host various industry leaders with Day 1 kicking off with Jason Strong - Director of Meat & Livestock Australia, David Hill - Director of Cattle Council of Australia & Angus Street - CEO of AuctionsPlus.


WATCH: Hon David Littleproud MP - Minister for Agriculture

The Hon David Littleproud MP - Minister for Agriculture - caught up with James Wagstaff from The Weekly Times at the AuctionsPlus pavilion during Beef Week to discuss the challenges the Beef industry has faced in recent years and how we can get the next generation of farmers to gain a sustainable footing in the industry.


Meet our Buy from the Bush Suppliers for Beef Australia

Over the last few weeks, we have been speaking to our suppliers for Beef Week from ‘Buy From the Bush’. Each business will be featured at our stand during the week of #Beef2021. The stubby holders for our networking drinks will feature artworks from Ellie Morris Photography and The Heuston Herd. We will also be offering snacks at the AuctionsPlus stand from Middle of Nowhere Creations, Urbino Ag, and Murrungundy Pistachios.


WATCH: Michael Vacy-Lyle - Group Executive of Commonwealth Bank

James Wagstaff from The Weekly Times caught up with Michael Vacy-Lyle, Group Executive of Commonwealth Bank Business Banking at Beef Australia to discuss how Australian businesses have weathered the COVID storm and the role Agriculture has played in the Australian economy.


Ascot Cattle Co : Beef Australia Stud Cattle & Genetics Auction

With Beef Week right around the corner, we caught up with Jim and Jackie Wedge to discuss the Inaugural Beef Australia Stud Cattle and Genetics Auction being held in Rockhampton next week. Jim and Jackie run a customer focused Angus and Charolais stud breeding operation known as Ascot Cattle Co, located in Warwick, QLD.


Good Going Out Cutlery: Turning the Humble Spoon into Something Special

As Dad always says, “to quote Kenny Rogers, there’s someone for everyone”, we take that same approach (whilst listening to basically that exact playlist) in the shed. Every ring we make is completely unique in style and size and although they might not be to everyone’s taste, every ring ends up going to someone who loves it.

The Yarn

From Banking to Burpees, Active Farmers’ Founder Shares Love for Fitness

Farmers across the country are heading into their nearest town once a week but it’s not for a beer. Instead, they’re busting out the exercise gear and dropping a few lunges and squats as part of the popular Active Farmers initiative.

The Yarn

Zanda McDonald Award Winner Shares Adventures Ahead

As a young uni student, someone once told Rozzie O’Reilly not to miss any opportunity that comes her way. Get rejected? Pick yourself up and throw your hat back in the ring. Fortunately, she took it on board and in 2021 Rozzie was crowned the Australian winner of the Zanda McDonald Award.


Ellendale Simmentals: Beef Australia Stud Cattle & Genetics Auction

In the lead up to Beef Week, we spoke to a regular Beef Week attender Julie Pocock who has been attending the event since 1997. The family run Ellendale Simmentals, specializing in high performance Red and Black Simmentals driven by the commercial market. The team will be bringing along four bulls for the auction at beef week and for the first time ever they will be putting a semen lot up.

The Yarn

Selling Online Before the Internet: AuctionsPlus Founder Howard Gardner

No one ever threw anything at Howard Gardner in the 1980s but he reckons he came close. After all, he was pitching to producers what he admits was a new fandangled way of selling livestock at a time before computers or the internet were a thing. Today that system is called AuctionsPlus and it’s since sold a ewe or two.


Beautifully Curated Handmade Designs - Miss Mollee Designs

Jenny Mapstone is a farmer's daughter from Narrabri, NSW. The family property, "Mollee" is the inspiration for her brand. The farm grows cotton, wheat, barley and oats, and runs a small herd of cattle. Her Dad and brother, Matthew run the farm together and pride themselves on employing good science, new technology and industry best practice principles to ensure that sustainability is at the forefront in all operations.


Rhys and Amy Innes: Beef Australia Stud Cattle & Genetics Auction

This week we spoke to Rhys and Amy Innes regarding the Inaugural Beef Australia Stud Cattle and Genetics Auction in the lead up to #Beef2021. Rhys and Amy started putting Angus bulls over Brahman cows roughly 15 years ago, however it wasn’t until three years ago that “we saw the light”, Rhys says, and recognised the impressive results from Brangus bulls.


Grain Donations Helping our Regions

As the 20/21 harvest season becomes a distant memory, Foodbank is putting their hand up to work with growers and traders from across the country to get involved and support their grain donation program. Grain donations combined with industry support will help produce pantry staples for families and individuals doing it tough.

The Yarn

Ange Shares Life as an Artificial Insemination Technician

Ange Wilson has spent almost 20 years with her arm somewhere she jokes her former ‘office girl’ self could never have imagined - but the artificial insemination technician wouldn’t have it any other way.


Leading the Herd to Water

Elisha Parker has a lot on her ever-expanding plate. A wearer of many hats, Elisha is the co-founder of, a national cattle advertising website that is the first of its kind in Australia. As the Queensland finalist for the AgriFutures 2020 Rural Women’s Award, she runs the flourishing site alongside co-founder Annabelle Spann, while working full time remotely as a lawyer and overseeing her daughter’s School of the Air curriculum. Sound like a lot? That’s because it is.


Sunnyside Brahmans: Beef Australia Stud Cattle & Genetics Auction

Mitchell and Hanna with kids Macy and Dallas In the lead up to #Beef2021, we caught up with Mitchell and Hanna Redding to discuss the Inaugural Beef Australia Stud Cattle and Genetics Auction being held in Rockhampton in May. Located near Toowoomba, west of Brisbane the couple run Sunnyside Brahmans alongside Hanna’s parents Mark and Kaylene Leicht.

The Yarn

A few days turns into Forty Years of Farming within the Merino Industry

In her early 20’s Lynley Anderson returned from an overseas adventure to give her parents a hand on the family property near Kojonup, WA. A few weeks turned into 40 years as the young nurse rediscovered her home and a passion for the Merino industry.


Daniel Barrett Music: Unsigned Artist Winner

We are incredibly excited to announce that AuctionsPlus has found our Unsigned Artist and will be bringing Daniel Barrett to Beef Australia with us in May. Daniel is a self-taught singer/songwriter from the Murray River town of Echuca in Victoria. When we spoke with him, he couldn’t believe that he had won, “I don’t know what to say, I’m really thankful for the opportunity. I can’t wait to show more people what I do”.


Oakvale Square Meaters: Beef Australia Stud & Genetics Auction

Gary and Heather Sewell have been operating their stud Oakvale Square Meaters for nearly twenty years. Gary is excited to get back to Beef this year for an array of reasons, “It (Beef) provides us the chance to meet a lot of different people with different backgrounds from right across the industry”.


Twenty Years of Hard Work brings Dream to Life for Gilmore Family

At the ripe old age of 12, Graham Gilmore felt he might just have experienced the proudest moment of his life. He’d shown the champion Dorset Horn ewe as a novice breeder at the Sydney Sheep Show. While he still remembers it like it was yesterday, fast forward to today and he’s notched up another achievement he thinks might just pip it at the post - developing the Australian White breed.


Marty Rowlands of KBV Simmentals: 20 Years Producing & Beef Australia

Marty Rowlands has been a producer for the past 20 years, with Beef Australia his main focus every 3 years. Having stock for sale at every Beef Australia event, Marty is extremely excited by the opportunity of the Inaugural Stud Cattle and Genetics Auction at #Beef2021.


The Untapped Potential of the Humble Working Dog

Kelly Barnes’ love for dogs and personal experience living with chronic pain and mental health have led her to develop Mates Working Dog School – a training program helping participants build low stress stock handling skills and a stronger awareness of mental health care. The Dunkeld local is passionate about offering social connections and networking events for primary producers, earning her the title of Victoria’s AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award in 2020.