A Malmsbury cattle farmer is fighting to make his shed turned ‘man-cave’ into a legal residence.
Travis Bruni is seeking permanent residence to farm a purebred Angus and Hereford breeding herd and fodder production.
He said his shed at the Youngs Road property gradually evolved into a residence over 18 months as he found increased presence was required at the property. Mr Bruni is currently bottle-feeding seven calves.
“They need feeding day and night and it does make it hard when you’re not living there to check the livestock,” he said.
“Heifers can’t just be checked once a day. In a matter of an hour you can have a heifer you think is going to calf fine to them down on the ground with a dead calf or dead cow.”
Now Mr Bruni needs Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s approval to continue living at the property as the move contravenes the Farm Zone’s minimum 40ha build requirement.
The land with the shed in question is 22.7ha and is expected to be consolidated with two other lots as part of a bigger farm enterprise. Mr Bruni manages another 400 acres in the vicinity.
The farm has about 60 cows and 60 weaned calves in autumn and spring calving, with capacity for 300 cattle.
Mr Bruni purchased the property about 10 years ago with the intention of renovating and living in an existing building.
“It was sold to me as being a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, one-kitchen residence but local laws has told me it is uninhabitable,” he said.
Mr Bruni said the dwelling was a run-down weatherboard that the previous owner had used for a film set.
He has a six-month permit to stay in a caravan and previously had to travel to the property from Riddells Creek.
Representing Mr Bruni, town planner Sharon Macaulay said the proposal to convert the shed into a living space was “highly justified”.
“This is not a rural lifestyle opportunity, this is a legitimate farm that needs a farmhouse,” Ms Macaulay said.
“Without that, there’s great risk to animal welfare. It needs careful monitoring for animal welfare as well as from a financial perspective.”
The application attracted two objections. The council is expected to make a decision on the matter in August.