Order of Australia — WA ag stalwarts and CWA volunteer honoured

Shannon Verhagen & Bob GarnantCountryman
Hillcroft Farms stud principal Dawson Bradford.
Camera IconHillcroft Farms stud principal Dawson Bradford. Credit: Countryman

A stalwart of WA’s livestock industry was “honoured and humbled” to receive an OAM for his lifetime of contribution to the sector.

Popanyinning sheep and pig producer and Royal Agricultural Society Hall of Fame inductee Dawson Bradford Sr was this week awarded an Order of Australia Medal as part of the Queen's Birthday 2021 Honours List.

The awards — announced on Monday — recognised more than 1000 Australians, with 640 awarded OAMs for their commitment to their communities and industry, including several regional WA identities.

Mr Bradford Sr said he was humbled to receive such important recognition from his peers.

He has dedicated his life to the industry in various roles, including 15 years as the international chairman of the Western Australian Meat Marketing Co-operative and the founding chair of LambEx in 2010.

Farming with wife Greta, he has run Hillcroft Farms Poll Dorset stud for more than four decades, where he spent 20 years breeding an easy-care line of sheep — dubbed the UltraWhite.

After one of Dawson Bradfor's best ever Hillcroft Farms Poll Dorset rams sold for a world record price of $31,000, the agriculture hall of famer farwelled his beloved breed of choice for so many years and will continue to his recent years pursuit on a pure- meat easy-care sheep type (UltraWhite) in which he will continue to refine offering producers a more commercially viable maternal-line or terminal sire option using the best of technoloty and aviable genetcs.
Camera IconAfter one of Dawson Bradfor's best ever Hillcroft Farms Poll Dorset rams sold for a world record price of $31,000, the agriculture hall of famer farwelled his beloved breed of choice for so many years and will continue to his recent years pursuit on a pure- meat easy-care sheep type (UltraWhite) in which he will continue to refine offering producers a more commercially viable maternal-line or terminal sire option using the best of technoloty and aviable genetcs. Credit: Countryman

A passage by RASWA after his hall of fame induction in 2014 states Mr Bradford Sr “stands out among the most progressive, successful and exemplary farmers and agricultural administrators in Western Australia”.

“I have always been driven to achieve my goals with great support from my wife Greta and our family, friends and many associates along the way,” Mr Bradford Sr said.

As a 16-year-old, he learned farming was hard work looking after his father’s piggery.

Setting out on his own, he ventured into share cropping and was able to save enough money to buy a farm at 21, five years later, and set up a piggery, knowing it would be a good cash stream.

Hillcroft Farms runs a 1400 sow piggery managed by Mr Bradford’s son, Dawson Bradford Jr, who was handed the management reins in 2002.

This allowed Mr Bradford Sr to turn his Poll Dorset “hobby” into a thriving enterprise, on the back of the onset of objective measurements through Lambplan beginning in 1989.

He took to technology and advanced the stud’s PD breeding program. One of his stud rams, Hillcroft 497, sold for a world record price of $31,000 in 2007.

But there was more work to do, and he set out to breed a shedding sheep that was similar to his beloved PDs, but without the wool.

He crossed a PD with a White Dorper and used some Wiltshire genetics to develop a sheep he named UltraWhite.

These sheep types are now in high demand across Australia, with inquiries overseas.

“This new breed of meat sheep has stabilised after 20 years of work,” Mr Bradford Sr said.

During Mr Bradford Sr’s time as chairman of WAMMCO — from 2000-2015 — he was highly respected within the industry.

“With the aid of many good people, we turned it around to be very profitable,” he said.

“In 2007, we were recipients of the national rural exporters of the year award — one of my proudest moments.”

Cecilia Sounness has volunteered at the Mt Barker CWA for over 60 years.
Camera IconCecilia Sounness has volunteered at the Mt Barker CWA for over 60 years. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Harvey farmer and South West Irrigation director has Ian Eckersley also received an OAM.

The farmer was a voice for the South West farming community during deregulation of the dairy industry in 2000 and fought for water security for irrigators when the State Government sought to divert 15 million kilolitres of water from Harvey’s Stirling Dam to top up the metropolitan supply in 2002.

Mt Barker Country Women’s Association volunteer Cecilia Sounness — who has volunteered for the branch for more than 60 years — has also been honoured with an OAM for her lifetime of dedication.

University of WA Institute of Agriculture professor Dr Neil Turner — who dedicated much of his career to dryland agriculture — was named a Member (AM) for his work in the agricultural and environmental science spheres, as well as education.

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