Growth through diversity

THE use of an independent financial broker is helping an enterprising couple to make their farming dreams a reality.
Robert and Anne Simcock, together with son, Ryan, run a diversified mixed farming enterprise across 1740 ha of owned and leased properties in the Tailem Bend region of South Australia.

This hard working couple spent more than decade shearing, contract harvesting and hay baling before getting the opportunity to lease Robert’s parent’s property, ‘Birralee Farms’, in 2014.

About the same time, they moved into livestock transport, initially carting pigs between breeding and rearing units and the Big River Pork processing facility in Murray Bridge.

When one of the rearing units – the 240 ha ‘Orland Hill’ – came on the market in 2018, the Simcocks jumped at the chance to purchase their own property.

“We thought this was a good opportunity to get into finishing pigs but after 18 months, we found that the numbers weren’t adding up for us so we converted the sheds into a lamb feedlot,” Robert says.

Each of the 14 open-sided sheds, with auto-filling self-feeders and water troughs, can hold about 200 lambs.

The sheds maintain a pleasant environment for the sheep throughout the extremes of summer and winter.

“The insulated roof panels easily knock a couple of degrees off the heat in summer, which means the lambs are happy to feed throughout the day, while in winter, it means they stay nice and dry,” he says.

Robert and Anne are now finishing up to 5000 prime lambs each year on top of their existing 1000 ha cropping, 1000 Merino ewe and livestock transport enterprises.

Lambs are fed a grain-based pellet that contains rumen buffers, vitamins and minerals for 6 to 8 weeks. 

“We are looking to buy them at 35 to 37 kg and turn them off at 60 kg to produce 28 kg carcases,” Robert says.

“We have the feedlot, we have the trucks and we have a good relationship with our livestock agent, so we can easily get into feeding lambs when the opportunity is there.

“The margins are tight but if you can get the right sheep, you can put the weight on them.”

Robert and Anne have since purchased a new prime mover and a triple-deck B double trailer to deliver sheep throughout south-east South Australia and Western Victoria and have employed a full-time driver to manage the pig carting contract.

Independent finance broker, Nimbus, has played a key role in obtaining finance for the Simcocks.

“To be honest, we’d never really shopped around for finance,” Robert says. 

“We’d been with the same bank for years and that’s how we first met Simon. 

“We were comfortable with our bank but we were also happy to talk to Simon when he told us he had joined Nimbus.”

Nimbus partner, Simon Franke, who has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural and business finance, says the Simcocks are a good example of how an independent finance broker can help farmers and regional businesses to secure competitive finance. 

“Robert and Anne wanted to grow but didn’t know how to explain their business in banking terms,” he says.

“We gathered all the information we needed from their accounts, developed a snapshot that showed their financial history, cash flow, objectives and their ability to service debt.

“Once it’s explained, this is a very attractive business to finance providers because it has several different income streams, a commitment to growth and the cash flow to service debt. 

“To a finance provider, that means low risk.

“In Robert and Anne’s case, we were able to save them three percent interest by refinancing.” 

Robert says the benefits are twofold.

“You don’t necessarily see that money but any saving in interest means you’ve got less debt and more money in the account to pay for fuel, feed or whatever,” Robert says.

“But for us, the big benefit is time.

“It takes time to obtain finance and we are time poor. 

“I’m driving five days a week and Anne is flat out with the sheep and the farm – we don’t have time for visiting banks and accountants every time we need something. 

“Nimbus makes it so easy because all our details are in one place and ready to go so we don’t have to go through the application process all again. 

“I think we have seven different loan providers but they are all managed on our behalf by Simon and we don’t have to worry about it.

“He is helping us to grow by helping us to get the best finance we can. 

“Ultimately, we want to be in the position to buy my parent’s farm and Simon will be part of that process, too, if and when the opportunity comes.”

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0447 552 089

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0448 791 704

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