Chris Eggert is a fourth-generation dairy farmer at Wauchope, on the mid-north coast of NSW, managing the farm with his parents, Jenny and Paul, and wife, Ann. In 2000, Chris, with the support of his family, made the change from traditional farming methods to organic farming, with the property achieving full certification with Australian Certified Organic (ACO) in 2003.
Since 2000, the business has been on a path of education, discovery and sustainability,. Today, the farm produces over one million litres of certified organic milk a year from a 170 mixed breed herd on a pasture fed diet. On-farm compost is produced using nitrogen and nutrients from the cows’ manure and urine combined with mulch hay. Chris’s method, saves money, water, minimises waste and maximises recycling of nutrients, while also decreasing brought-in inputs. The 1500 laying hens managed for pasture ranged organic eggs add to the nutrients. The farm produces grass fed meat, sold directly to consumers and restaurants.
The decision to adopt organic methods was triggered by high input costs, high stress, stock health problems and high veterinary bills. New farming practices have alleviated many issues through better soil water retention, and healthier plants and animals, lowering cow replacement and herd health costs – in 1999 they spent $20,000 at the vet, now they spend next to nothing. Carbon is a major focus on the farm – increasing carbon levels a priority, even in droughts, and has led to the property’s increasing resilience to adverse weather events.
Chris believes in using animals as a tool to heal the land and increase productivity, and employing holistic management principles to his farming methods. A strong believer in organic farming, Chris hosts on-farm events to inform the community about where their food comes from and how it is produced. Chris speaks at conferences and field days, sharing his knowledge and organic farming experience. Passionate about employing and training members of the community – the farm has welcomed trainees, work experience students, university students, WWoOFers (Willing workers on organic farms), and currently employ five casual staff and one permanent employee. Diversification and direct marketing, increasing on-farm employment opportunities.