Why Organic?

Benefits of Organic Farming

Organic Farming means changing to a balanced, natural, diversified, holistic system of farming, creating healthy soil. The stock are bred for vitality and natural immunity to disease and parasites. Organic also means NO chemicals, drench, dip, vaccines or artificial fertilisers and no monoculture agriculture.

Our organic farming system continues to evolve and it was not until after seven years that Helen and I felt completely happy and comfortable with the organic system we had developed for our farm.

Surely it’s time to reject the chemicals, look to the basic cause of parasites and disease and move to Organic methods of control, such as breeding the natural immunity back into your stock like they used to have before the chemicals and drench arrived about 60 years ago.

Organic Livestock

Many farmers are changing to Wiltshire & SHIRE® Rams as they want a better sheep farming lifestyle with less work, by stopping dagging, crutching, shearing, drenching, dipping and vaccinating.

Over the last decade drench resistance has become a real problem for conventional sheep farmers dependent on chemicals. Similar problems are eventuating with pesticides & dips. Residues are too high for many markets.

Most stud breeders still drench, dip & vaccinate animals with poor immunity to parasites and disease. This inferior stock is often used as studs, but would not thrive without chemicals, which has made many common breeds unsuitable for Organic farming.

Converting to Organics


We started to convert our 5000 stock unit property to organics in 1986. It was hard and challenging at times; going organic requires thinking, planning and determination. It took several years of trial and error to work out a viable way of farming sheep and cattle organically. We were very much on our own, back in the late '80s and early '90s. We got a lot of flak from other farmers, vets, stock agents and bankers (had to change banks), especially those first ten years. There were many cynical comments like “Your grass won't grow without super!” or “There's NO market for organic stock!” or “You'll go broke”. We made some mistakes and learnt some lessons that helped us put together the farming system we have now that we are very happy with.

Changes we made

  • Stopped using artificial fertilisers and changed to Sabbatical Fallowing which has renewed all the pastures and cleaned the land of diseases such as pulpy kidney, blood poisoning and eventually tetanus.
  • Reduced our sheep numbers and increased cattle for a more balanced sheep:cattle ratio.
  • Tried farming many breeds to find the best stock to raise organically.
  • Bred and selected our stud sheep and cattle for performance, vitality and natural immunity to disease and parasites. Breeding from strong immune organic bloodlines is the only truly sustainable method of controlling disease and parasites.
  • We’ve found the Wiltshire and especially the SHIRE® sheep breed ideal for organics. High fertility, fly and parasite resistance, hardy, fast growing lambs, and no dangerous dagging or costly shearing. You can free up your shearing shed for another project, or don’t build one at all!
  • Likewise, Highland and TUFTY® cattle have proved excellent for raising organically.

Interest in Organics

My interest in organics goes back to my childhood on Belmont station in Blackmount, after my father, Bobs Gow died suddenly at 49 on the farm from a heart attack, when I was nine years old. My mother Mary continued farming and developed an interest in stud breeding and organic gardening using compost which rubbed off on me. My mum’s parents were Cattle farmers in Cave & my Dad’s parents were both doctors in Winton.

When I was 20 I went on my Big OE; I drove a tractor helping plough & seed 6000 acres in West Australia in 12 hour shifts, where fertiliser was poured on to produce very little crop and then later environmental problems. This was a big contrast to the 4000+ years old low input organic sabbatical fallowing/farming I saw in 1979 while traveling overland for 6 months from Indonesia through Asia and the Middle east. This trip included India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Turkey and carried on through Europe to London. I think this all had an early influence on deciding to convert to organic farming.

Beginning our Farm

Since then I’ve always been interested in low input, self sufficient, sustainable, energy efficient organic methods of farming. I returned home after working in the UK & in 1980 began breeding performance-recorded Romney rams.

In 1981 I bought bare land from family and started farming conventionally. The bank expected that as I had a large mortgage on my new sheep and cattle farm, Mangapiri Downs. In 1985 I travelled through China with my Mum and then I took the Trans-Siberian across Russia. In Europe, Helen & I saw organic farming/market developing and when we returned we became disillusioned with conventional farming.

There always seemed to be another drench, dip or something else to poke into your sheep or cattle, or chemicals for the farm. We wondered if it was really necessary, as livestock survived well before all that stuff was invented.


BioGro Certification

Proudly BioGro certified organic for years and counting.

Our farm received full BioGro organic certification in March 1989. To obtain the right to use the trademark, we undergo an annual BioGro inspection of our farm, produce, and production methods to ensure that we comply with the standards for Organic produce. The standards are set by BioGro NZ and audited by IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements), the worldwide organisation with over 800 member organisations & institutions in 120 countries. BioGro is the leading voice for organics and certification, representing and certifying over 650 producers across New Zealand and the Pacific. They certify every sector of the organics industry and with over 30 years of experience in global organic certification, they help to tell a story and distinguish our brand.

BioGro is owned by the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumer Society – a registered not-for-profit that works to increase awareness and demand for certified organic products. The BioGro logo is the most recognised organic logo amongst New Zealanders. It is also renowned in wider export markers including Asia, Europe, Australia and the US. Having the largest organic market share means the BioGro logo has become synonymous with certified organics. We proudly carry the BioGro logo to assure customers that the organic produce they buy is authentic and free from the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Read more about BioGro 

Organics Worldwide

The total land area under certified organic production worldwide is 43.2 million Hectares farmed by 2 million producers in 170 countries. New Zealand has 106,753 hectares of certified organic land. Australia experienced a 15% growth in their organics industry in the past two years and leads the world with 17.2 million Hectares of organic agricultural land. Followed by Argentina with 3.2 million hectares, then the US and China with 2 million hectares.


The Falkland Islands (Maldives) have the highest organic share of agricultural land at 36.3% with several large sheep farms working organically. Many island nations have high shares of organic agricultural land. So-called clean green NZ has 0.9% organic agricultural land, way behind Liechtenstein (31%), Austria, Sweden, Estonia, Switzerland, Samoa, Italy & more all over 10%.