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TAS Country : September 23rd 2010
16 Friday, Septem land THIS Karolin MacGregor ALL IN THE FAMILY: Robyn Whishaw and her son David at the family's Armidale Stud. The neighs have it at Armidale PICTURESQUE Armidale sits alongside the Meander River on the outskirts of Carrick and has been in the Whishaw family for four generations. These days the farming operation and stud is run by Robyn Whishaw and her children David, Will and Camilla. Will is in charge of the day-to-day cropping and livestock management, while Robyn looks after the stud side of things. Thoroughbreds are still the family's main enterprise, but over the past few years an expansion in their cropping program has produced some excellent results and led to significant improvements to the property's pastures. Mrs Whishaw said working with thoroughbreds often involved long, hard days, but seeing horses they had bred doing well on the racetrack was the ultimate reward. ''I think it's something you have to love or you just wouldn't do it,'' she said. ''It's such a huge thrill for us to see horses we've bred out there winning on the race track, that's what it's all about.'' Armidale has an interesting history and was originally bought by Denis and Peter Whishaw in 1919 after they returned from World War I. The brothers soon set about expanding the property, buying neighbouring Parkwater in 1920. In those early days, sheep were the main grazing enterprise and most of the property consisted of native pastures and scrub. Peter's son David returned from fighter pilot duties in World War II and went to the Lincoln Agricultural College in New Zealand, where he studied agriculture, before taking over the running of Armidale in the early 1950s. After converting most of the property to improved pastures, David established the state's first large-scale Landrace piggery, and was instrumental in kick-starting the live pig export trade. He also set up what was then considered a large dairy operation on the property with 150 cows. Using the natural assets of the Liffey and Meander rivers, David created flood irrigation systems, effectively drought-proofing the property. It was David who started Armidale's thoroughbred breeding operation after buying his first broodmare in the early 1960s. He officially established the stud in 1968. In partnership with his friend Robert Fergusson, the pair increased the broodmare numbers at Armidale and imported well-bred stallions from England and Ireland. David's son Denis then went on to take over the property in 1977 after completing his diploma in agribusiness. Denis and Robyn continued to expand the dairy side of the business. However, in 2001 after the dairy deregulation, a decision was made to wind up the dairying to allow more room for expansion of the thoroughbred breeding operation. The couple spent years developing the stud, improving bloodlines and earning a reputation for breeding some of the state's top horses. Sadly, Denis died in 2004, but since then the family have continued to work together to keep the business growing and improving. The couple's son David returned to Armidale in 2007 after finishing his agriculture studies at the University of Tasmania. Since returning to Armidale, David has set about increasing the cropping side of their business, installing more irrigation infrastructure, including K-Line irrigators in the horse paddock and a large centre pivot on the river flats. They have phased out the flood irrigation system and have also done extensive drainage work across the property. David said these days they also used their cropping program as an effective way of renovating and improving pastures, which can then be used for the horses. Any horse pastures that drop off in quality are Feature farm
September 16th 2010
September 30th 2010