Life On The Job


Rob Cook - Livestock Farmer

Portrait
(Source: ABC Rural)

Introduction

"Cook's inspirational journey began when he plummeted 60 metres to the ground in a helicopter crash during a muster on Suplejack Downs in 2008.

Crews raced to save him, but the damage was instant - he had dislocated his C4 vertebrae, and was paralysed.

Instead of conceding defeat, he decided to champion the use of technology to help injured farmers keep working, which earned him a Nuffield Scholarship in 2011.

Now, Cook and his family have bought three properties near Bundaberg to establish some new devices on a smaller-scale operation.

Mr Cook said one of the biggest challenges had been learning to work on a smaller scale.

"We've got to make every blade of grass count with what we're doing (in Queensland)," he said.

"It's taken a little bit of getting used to; rather than mustering 2,000 or 3,000 head, you're only mustering 200 or 300 head, so it's been a bit of an eye-opener."

When it comes to the health of the cattle industry into the future, Mr Cook said the indicators were promising, but producers needed to keep up.

For example, to safeguard against drought, he has installed a fodder unit that produces 1.5 tonnes of barley fodder every day.

"It's little things like this as far as technology goes; as it evolves, so long as the Australian cattle industry evolves with it, I think the future's looking very bright."

The Cooks are running a backgrounding block near Gin Gin, a house block at Bucca, and breeder block near Agnes Water.

They are running 400 breeders, mainly black brangus." (Source: ABC Rural)

Did You Know?

Suplejack Downs Station was where Rob Cook grew up.


"Suplejack Downs was pioneered by Bob & Lillian Savage in the early 60's, they took up residency in 1964 along with 6 of their 7 children.

Suplejack Downs is a breeder block but can also turn off fats. We are a family owned and operated business and currently have 4 generations involved. We are situated on the Lajamanu Road, 730klm NW of Alice Springs via the Tanami Road and 720klm SW of Katherine via the Buntine Highway in the NT.

Map of Suplejack Downs
(Source: Wikipedia)

We use Horses, Bikes, Gyrocopter & Helicopter to muster the cattle depending on the size of the paddock/area in need of muster. We also use working dogs during the weaning/tailing process.

The wives/women work along side the men in all facets of daily work and the children join in as well.

The children are educated through the Alice Springs School of the Air by their mothers and enjoy 3 Get Togethers in Alice where they join their teachers and other students in their class, on a face to face basis, in all sorts of lessons and activities.

There are dams and underground water pumped to the surface with mono pumps to water the stock. We have 16 major watering points, some of which service several paddocks each.
Our calves are weaned and processed at approximately 6 months of age with 2 rounds of mustering per year.

We have a Composite Herd made up of Shorthorn Brahman Cross with Droughmaster back over the second cross. This type cattle do very well in this type country."

(Source: Farmz)

 

His Story

"Rob met his wife Sarah in school, and although they spent many years apart in the early days, they had a blossoming long distance romance that began in 1998. They married in 2004 and decided to begin their own family, with their first son Braxton, born in March 2006 and their second son Lawson, born in March 2008.

Rob’s entire life was changed on the fateful day of September 30th 2008. It began as any other typical day in the life of a cattle farmer, which included mustering cattle from a helicopter. Rob used his own smaller version, called a gyrocopter and two other cattlemen/friends used larger scale helicopters. Rob later met them back at the station, and he decided to go up with one of the pilots, Zebb, to point out some mustering cut-off points.

They were coming in to land and it was just after 10 in the morning, when the helicopter experienced engine failure, and fell from the sky at 200 feet. Zebb did his best to aim the chopper into the only clear landing that was in sight. Coming in for a crash landing, one of the blades clipped a tree, spinning the helicopter upside down, where it landed on the passenger side.

Both men had no visible signs of injury and were both still strapped in with their seat belts, but Rob knew there was something seriously wrong when he couldn’t feel any part of his body... After hours of waiting, Rob was eventually flown to Adelaide Royal Hospital in South Australia, with his wife Sarah, and youngest son Lawson, who was only 6 months of age at the time.

During the accident, Robs head was slammed against the roof of the helicopter, dislocating his C4 vertebrae, leaving him paralysed from the neck down. After a considerable amount of time in hospital, becoming stabilized, he then spent months in rehab. He had his family by his side the whole time, with his dad, mum, brothers and their families even moving the 2000 kilometres down from their cattle station to be with Rob, Sarah and their kids for around eight months. It just shows what a tight knit and loving family they have.

Rob was urged by doctors to move close to a main hospital, to be able to receive the best care available, but he and Sarah wanted to raise their boys the same way they were, on their family’s farm." (Source: Can Do Ability)

"So rather than opt for a simpler life in town, away from the cattle he loves, Rob and his wife Sarah searched out ways to make farm life work for them.

They moved to a smaller farm in Bucca, near Bundaberg Queensland and with the help of friends and machinery companies they have automated and converted their operation so that Rob can remain a vital part of the business. Rob reckons he’s farming smarter now than he did before the accident." (Source: Alice Gorman)

Employment, Experiences & Opportunities:

In 2011, Rob was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship to investigate innovations and technology in the beef industry to enable

 

Rob Cook painting
28 year old Rob Cook painting what he knows best, cattle and country - Source: ABC News

 

Rob crossed the Tanami Desert in his modified four wheel drive wheelchair to raise money for his Nuffield scholarship, and was awarded a courage medal at the national Pride of Australia awards in 2011.
(Source:
Wikipedia)

Fall
Rob Cook comes off his wheelchair along the Tanami Track and waits for help to right him.
(Source: Nuffield)

"Inspirational farmer Rob Cook has purchased a Fuso Heavy truck and dog for the family’s cattle operations in South East Queensland.

The former rodeo champion was left a quadriplegic after a helicopter crash on a Northern Territory station in 2008 and was told he could not return to his life on the land.

Rob is unable to feed himself, with just enough strength in his upper arm to operate a joystick controller, but with a mixture of determination, support from family and friends and technology, he proved his doctors wrong.

He and his wife Sarah operate three cattle properties and have just opened their own butcher shop in Bundaberg serving their own quality meat.

Rob had been paying for sub-contractors to move cattle between properties, which seemed a waste given Sarah was happy to do it and had a multi-combination (MC) licence." (Source: Trucksales)

with truck

"Rob, along with wife Sarah and two sons Braxton and Lawson, are using modern technology and a barley sprout growing shed to intensify their Brangus cattle enterprise and set a new standard for Australian grown beef.

Cameras, sensors linked to phones, automated remote weighing systems, computerised watering, a feed mixer wagon and a host of other mechanisms help Rob combat his own restrictions, but these same devices also assist in the labour-starved state that Australian farming currently finds itself in.

The accident may have broken his back, but it has in no way broken his spirit or his passion for farming and the cattle industry in Australia.

Rob has just enough movement in his right hand to operate his wheelchair, mobile phone, cattle crush and drafting gates. There are numerous other modifications they have adopted around the farm to assist with his involvement, but he is still very much in control of the operation.

Growing barley sprouts indoors to produce a high quality and consistent feed source is not unique, but it is still in its infancy in Australia." (Source: Trade Farm Machinery)

Barley Sprout Harvest
Barley Sprout Harvest
(Source:
Trade Farm Machinery)

"The first two stages of their four-stage program comprises joining and calving down a one thousand Brangus - Brahman Angus cross cow herd on their 3500 acre property known as ‘Tandara’ located about seventy kilometres north of Bundaberg at Agnes Waters.

At weaning the steers are transferred to ‘Cabbage Tree’, a 1000 acre backgrounding property just north of Gin Gin.

At Cabbage Tree the weaners are paddock grazed with the introduction of some supplementary feeding in preparation for the more intense feeding program implemented at the fattening property, Werribee.

Rob stresses that he keeps a very closes eye on individual weights of the cattle, but places more emphasis on condition for weaning and introducing them into the intense feeding program for finishing.

He places a lot of importance on keeping the cattle very quiet and eliminating unnecessary handling where possible.(Source: Trade Farm Machinery)

Werribee

"The property is named Werribee because Sarah’s research revealed it is an Aboriginal term for backbone or spine and Rob says the property is actually the mainstay of their entire operation.

This is where they finish their steers on an intensive 120-day feeding program consisting mainly of barley sprouts.

Rob says the property used to be an organic aloe Vera farm.

"We’ve since converted it into a finishing farm," he explains

"Given its meaning, we figured the name Werribee was pretty relevant to our situation because I’ve got a broken spine and this is basically the backbone of our operation."

"We grow a little bit of hay and silage and then we’ve got a sprouting unit that grows us barley fodder. We mix those three products together with a bit of molasses and even some sweet potato to add a bit of variety each day and feed that out into the feed troughs in the cells where the cattle are fattening."

The easiest way of describing the shed is that it’s no bigger than your normal double-car garage. Sprouts are grown in a hydroponic type setup, but it’s the engineering that’s gone into the process that makes it so productive.

"We put 350kg of barley grain onto the trays then the computers simply water the grain over a five-day period," Rob relates. "It has growing lights for the last couple of days to make the grass green."

"Essentially that 350kg of grain turns into one-and-a-half tonne of fresh, healthy barley fodder on day five."

Using simple mathematics, if you multiply the weight of grain by four you are actually reducing its cost by four times as well – $200 grain becomes $50 grain.(Source: Trade Farm Machinery)

New Venture: Tender Sprouted Meats in Bundaberg

Tender Sprouted Meats

"The Cooks are breeding, fattening, finishing and now retailing their tender sprouted meats brand locally in Bundaberg and nationally via internet-based sales.

Rob controls every aspect of his beef product, from the careful selection of breeding stock in the predominantly Brangus herd to selling the meat out of his recently acquired butcher shop, Tender Sprouted Meats, in Bundaberg.

The Cooks bought the butcher shop because they wanted to maintain control of the quality of their meat after slaughter." (Source: Trade Farm Machinery)

 

Links

Rob Cook - website

Rob Cook
ABC Landline 12 June 2011: Outback Character

Landline


ABC Landline 3 September 2016 - Rob Cook Video

Landline

ABC News 3 September 2016
(Transcript and photos from Landline)

ABC News 3092016
ABC Rural: New Technology a 'game-changer' for quadriplegic cattleman

ABC Rural
ABC Rural: Video Rob Cook's wheelchair journey continues
4 Audio clips about his journey

Rural
ABC Rural 26 February 2016

ABC Rural
News Mail 5 May 2016

News Mail
Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars

Nuffield Farming Scholars
Scholar Profile: Rob Cook (2)

Scholar Profile (PDF)
The Farmer redefining disability

Farm Online
Beef Central

Beef Central
The Farmer has a Wife

Farmer has a wife



Courier Mail: 22 February 2015 - Ask a Farmer

Ask a Farmer
Christmas is Coming - Rob Cook
(excerpts from his book)

Christmas is coming

Activities

Inspirational Story

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

ICT Australian Curriculum General Capability: Information and Communication Technology Capability

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Philosophy Philosophy

1. Read as many articles about Rob Cook from the articles provided (above). Make notes about what actions you think are inspirational.

2. Create a presentation, using Prezi, about this impressive man and his family incorporating at least one audio clip and one video clip. You are to add the action that you found most inspiring and state why.

PreziPrezi logo

3. What he has achieved could be written into the script of any Hollywood blockbuster.

"As a kid mum always said 'you know that's what your life is going to be, your life is a story and you're the author and it's up to you to fill the page'," he said.
(Source: News Mail)

Reflect on your life so far. What is your story? How to you intend to inspire others?

 

 

 

Your Motivational Quote

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Personal and social capabilityAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

Philosophy Philosophy

1. Rob Cook states on his website:

"I would rather attempt something great and fall. Than do nothing at all and succeed."

Rob's dedication at the beginning of his book, When the Dust Settles, is a quote from John Wayne, actor:

John Wayne "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."

2. What is your reaction to these quotes

Emotionally?

Intellectually?

Give reasons for your answer using the word "because"

3. Look at the following motivational quotes:

Motivational Quote Motivational Quote
Motivational Quote
Motivational Quote Motivational Quote

Which quote inspire you the most? Why? Discuss with a partner. Remember to give reasons for your answer and use the word "because".

4. Brainstorm words that you think would be your words to live by. Create one or two sentences or phrases. Share with a friend. Refine if you think it necessary.

What is your motivational quote?

5. Illustrate your quote as if it was for your blog or facebook page.

6. In the next 3 - 6 months, reflect on whether you have lived up to your quote.

 

 

 

Technology and Disability

 MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

ICT
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Information and Communication Technology Capability
Critical
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

Literacy
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

 

1. Read the following articles about Rob Cook and his use of Technology:

The Farmer redefining disability

Farm Online
ABC Rural: New Technology a 'game-changer' for quadriplegic cattleman

ABC Rural
ABC Rural 26 February 2016

ABC Rural
Trade Farm Machinery 7 December 2015

Trade Farm Machinery

2. List the technologies that Rob is using to help him continue to be a livestock farmer. Research what these technologies do to assist Rob.

Which ones do you think are the most important in assisting Rob continue as a livestock farmer? Why?

3. Rob is using his business acumen to develop the butcher shop in Bundaberg. What technologies has he used here? Why?

4. Create a social media campaign to help Rob and others so that other technologies can be developed.

 

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