Jim Stewart has seen more corners of the globe than many, over his 64-year career (that’s showing no signs of slowing down) he has taken livestock by land, sea, and air to people right across the globe.
As a farm kid through and through, Jim had never seen the hustle and bustle of a city until the age of 12 as he stepped off the bus to attend boarding school. For the kid who self-proclaims, he was ‘born under a Hereford and under a horse’ school much like the city was a foreign concept.
Nonetheless, those formative years spent alongside his siblings and around the family farm had instilled a work ethic that would see him go on to become Head Boarder and Vice-Captain of the school in his final years.
And he means that quite literally, because as a kid, Jim mentions that they did go hungry.
Without an opportunity on the family farm, Jim set off on his way juggling work with a professional athletics career. Such was his ability that he paid for his first wedding with the winnings from one of his races.
“I was running professionally and running against some very, very talented athletes. They were two-three steps below Olympic standard”
“In one year, I won 175 pounds for winning one race off scratch. That paid for my wedding”
“That was an absolute fortune back in those days”
It was his love for Livestock though where Jim excelled. His work ethic and understanding have been rewarded on several occasions, including being inducted into the Livestock Hall of Fame in 2016. He has been approached to establish new operations and manage feedlots with tens of thousands of animals in some of the most remote parts of the world.
“I’ve been to every inch of China, Russia, Siberia, all over South East Asia. Trained people in South America, New Zealand, and at home here in Australia”
“It’s taken me all over the world. I’ve worked on projects like the Nile River Irrigation in Sudan, I have been involved in the first livestock shipments out of Freemantle in 1958, and I’ve been with it ever since”
His skill set is as diverse as his ability, having worked as a meat trader, wool classer, the ability to make smallgoods and stocksense build off countless hours in the sheep and cattle yards.
Jim makes no secret that when it has come to his field of work the number one priority is the animals.
“Welfare is my thing. I only care about the animals and getting them there safely.”
“I always made sure I was satisfied with where the animals were going and I’ve done that in every country I’ve ever been to”
“We would watch the sheep feed and water to simulate the animals being on board a ship.” He said
“We rigged a cargo net up above them and would lay there all day and night to see how much they were eating, what the right density was, how comfortable they were, did they prefer having the lights on or off at night”
“We looked at everything, should the water troughs go along the ship or across them. What is the right ration to be feeding them.”
Jim’s passion for helping teach people has taken him all over the world, often his work has only been possible with the help of others. Seen below, Jim is providing a lecture on animal health and nutrition with a translator in Mongolia.