The fundamental basics to enjoyable farming

Almurta cattle farmer Peter is a first-generation farmer who has spent the past 15 years breeding cows and calves. For Peter, it's the lifestyle and finding ways to be more efficient that makes farming enjoyable.

"We make repairs to the yard because it makes it more enjoyable to work in. If the yards are functional and well maintained, it's just so much better for us and the cattle."


As a farmer with homemade yards, Peter's working on getting his facilities as good as they can be and has seen a lot of yards with plenty of room for improvement.

"My stockyards are homemade, but it shows that any farmer can build a set of safe yards," says Peter.

"When we first came here, the yards were traditional old timber stockyards. They were very low and cattle were jumping out of them all the time."

"Our new yard design is based on a round yard principle and when we're working cattle in the yard, we're probably three to four times more efficient than we were before."

"Stockyards are a dangerous place. I was loading cattle myself one day in the race, where you shouldn't be, but there's no other option because of the way it was designed and built. The worst thing happened because a heifer was coming out of that truck, and there was nowhere for me to go. I was quite lucky that she wasn't big and we managed to both pass one another in the race but if she had knocked me down, she would have gone straight over the top of me."

"The lucky people can tell you a story like that," adds Peter.

Near-miss experiences like this are part of the reason Peter has since made changes to how he and livestock transporters load cattle on his property.

"When we first started in Almurta the stockyards were reasonable, but there was no walkway. We're now in the process of upgrading the loading ramp," explains Peter.

"We're putting a walkway down the side, gates at the front, an end gate and a walkway around the force pen. This will mean there's no need for the truck driver to be behind or in with the cattle at any time. It'll be a lot safer for transporters."

But Peter knows it’s not just yard design and maintenance that keeps farmers safe. Awareness of your surroundings and understanding the animals you work with are essential components of farm safety. "In the yard you need to be careful with cows and have cattle awareness. That's more than anything else - being aware of where you are, and always having a plan B," says Peter.

"You've always got to be thinking one step ahead of yourself, not one step behind."


For Peter safety is something he is continuously building on over time.

"What we would really like to do is put a roof over the yards. I'm 65 and it will happen, but that's just an example of how you don't do things in five minutes. We need another two good years of cattle prices and then I'll put a roof over my yards. A roof will make the yards safer as there won't be as much slop on the ground, and it will be more enjoyable to work in there," says Peter.

While improving and making big changes to his yards takes time, Peter always welcomes feedback from others in the industry including livestock agents and transporters.

"I usually let the more experienced person run the show and quite often if it's a stock agent I'll say to them, where would you like me to be or what do you want me to do?"

"When we get feedback from contractors or the stock agent on ways to improve, we look at it and how we can make those changes." While Peter admits he’s guilty of thinking he'll fix something the next day and then doesn't, he also knows spending ten minutes to hang a gate can make a life-saving difference for everyone on-farm.

"As a farmer, we have a responsibility - first of all to my family and to everybody else that comes onto the farm."

"For our contractors, for our stock agents, the transporters, anybody that comes onto the farm, we have an obligation to look after them."

"It's my responsibility to make sure people go home safe every night."


Peter has shared his story as part of WorkSafe Victoria's 'It's never you, until it is' campaign, which promotes farm safety and highlights that injuries and death on farms are preventable.

Livestock is the second highest killer on farms – we all know cattle can be unpredictable. Alongside the beef cattle industry, WorkSafe has developed new cattle handling information to help keep everyone safe.