Historically Tocal has had a reputation as a progressive and innovative farm. Current management aims are to maintain the strong reputation of the property by adopting best practice property management for livestock as well as land use practices.
NSW and the CB Alexander Foundation manage the farms under the same environmental and market conditions as other local farmers. All management decisions for Tocal enterprises take into consideration implications on the whole farm.
|Area||1500 hectares, made up of prime pasture, meduim pasture and poor pasture land as well as bushland. 10km from front boundary (the Paterson River) to the back boundary and approximately 2 km across.|
|Herd size||1100 head|
|Bulls||Angus, Brangus and Charolais|
|Market||Sale of yearlings on local stores market|
|Calving||Mainly in Spring. 93% calving, 90% weaning|
|Paddocks/Dams||45 paddocks, 26 dams|
|Roads||40km roads and formed tracks|
Moving cattle around the property
The Beef section of the College uses 1500 hectares of Tocal land to graze 500 Brahman cross Angus cows. The area comprises heavily timbered country, native/naturalised pasture, improved pasture and degraded improved pasture. The beef enterprise centres on a breeding herd of around 500 females, a total of up to 1200 head can be on hand at Tocal when calves, heifers and bulls are included. The breeding program involves the use of Brahman, Brangus and Angus bulls to maintain a crossbred herd. Charolais bulls are used as terminal sires. Each year approximately 450 calves are born and are weaned at 9 months. The major market focus is for vealers as well as store cattle (cattle that are sold to be fattened by someone else). Sometimes steers can be fattened for the European Union market if conditions on the property are suitable.
The beef section has attained Cattlecare and European Union accreditation. It employs both the Prograze system of pasture management as well as Landcare principles. Since the introduction of Cattlecare the practice of hot iron branding has stopped as this damages the hide and reduces its value. Tocal cattle are now ear marked, management tagged and NLIS (National Livestock Identification Scheme) tagged. These NLIS tags are scanned to assist in the recording of weights and other performance measures.
Student training is carried out on the herd as part of the day-to-day husbandry operations. Each year the College students operate a feedlot as part of their studies. Selected young animals are also broken in each year for showing at local heifer and steer competitions.
|Working||20 Australian Stock Horses for working cattle|
|Breakers||20 for horse breeding student training|
|Broodmares||24 Australian Stock Horse mares for breeding replacements|
|Stallions||2 Australian Stock Horse|
A selection of Tocal horses
Australian Stock Horses are bred at Tocal for student training and stock work. Over twenty broodmares are joined each year to performance sires of the Australian Stock Horse breed to provide top quality stock for use in student training and on the farm. At any one stage Tocal will have over one hundred horses on the property from young foals, yearlings, breakers, work plant horses and broodmares. Foaling begins around August. The foals are weaned and handled at 5 months. They are broken in and trained by students at 2 years. After basic training the horses are ready for more advanced training and work on the farm. The horses have successfully competed at local Royal Agricultural Society shows as well as the Eastern Branch Stock horse show.
Each year the students from the Horse Breeding certificate compete in our Stock Horse Challenge where students demonstrate the results achieved with their young horses which they break-in in May and train throughout the year.
Horses are also prepared for shows (both led and ridden) as well as for sales by the students. On-site sales of Australian Stock Horses are held on the first Sunday in November each year.
|Area||300 hectares: 80 hectares irrigated for milking cows and 220 hectares for dry cows and heifers|
|Cows||360 in herd (Fresian and Illawarra) of which 220 are milked|
|Weekly production||Average production is 37,500 litres/week|
|Pastures||Kikuyu based oversown with ryegrass, white clover and red clover with some chicory and plantain. Also forage crops such as sorghum or lucerne.|
|Irrigated area||80 hectares total. Travelling irrigator, bike shift and hand shift irrigation|
|Fertiliser||Starter fertiliser, selective use of nitrogen and poultry litter. Some paddocks are limed. Fertilised with N+P+K regularly|
|Dairy Bails||10 a side herringbone|
|Milking time||120minutes (approximately)|
|Average Production / Cow lactation||7,700 litres|
Supply to Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Limited. Milk is transported mostly to their Sydney processing operation mostly for supply to Coles.
Tocal students gain valuable experience working in the dairy
The dairy farm has a milking herd averaging 220 mostly Holstein-Friesians with some Illawarras and representatives of other breeds. With dry cows, heifers (grown for replacement and sale) as well as calves the dairy herd is about 450 head at any time throughout the year. Cows are milked twice a day and the average production per cow is 23 litres per day. Total milk production for the year is approximately 1,750,000 litres. The milking herd is mostly artificially bred with the semen being purchased from USA, Canada and Australia. Herd recording is undertaken once a month to monitor individual animal performance and assist in management decision making. The NLIS tag, in each animal's ear, is scanned to assist in this process. Our Herd records are also maintained electronically using EasyDairy software.
The dairy, as well as draft stock at the exit of the dairy are based on permanent, irrigated kikuyu with annual over sowing of rye grass and clovers with some chicory and plantain. Pastures are managed using the "Managing Pastures for Profit" system devised by the Dairy Pathways project. Additional concentrate feeding occurs during milking and on a feed pad as required. Depending on seasonal conditions about 500 tonnes of silage is made from surplus pasture each year and is fed out to the cattle when needed.
The dairy is both Cattlecare and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) accredited. The finances of the Dairy business are monitored and reviewed as part of the Dairy Farm Monitor Project sponsored by NSW DPI and Dairy Australia.
Bona Vista (sheep)
|Sheep: Dohne Ewes||250|
|Wool Production||Over 1 tonne per year|
Shearing at Bona Vista
Sheep are run on part of the 100ha farm known as Bona Vista. The flock at Tocal is managed along commercial lines although it's size and the humid climate in this area is not ideal for profitable sheep production. The flock of 250 breeding ewes is run for both meat and wool. About 150 lambs are sold as stores for later meat production, 100 ewes culled for age and type as well as 1,400kg of wool is produced each year. Lambs are sold from 16 weeks of age. Our annual shearing and wool classing is carried out by students. A wool classing course is run each year in our shearing shed by NSW TAFE.
The flock is grazed on both introduced and native pastures with some areas also irrigated.
The Tocal flock is guarded by a Maremma dog named Duneedoo. The first Maremma, Marshall, was introduced to the flock in 1997 following several dog attacks during lambing. Feral dog control is a key management area that is focussed on to eliminate losses of lambs and other young stock.
Free range egg production
Tocal's egg production facility
Numerella has five sheds with a total shed area of 8,762 m2. The sheds house up to 90,000 hens which are grown and their eggs harvested under contract to Pace Farms. Approximately 70,000 eggs per day are harvested with the aid of conveyors and an egg packer rated at 16,000 eggs per hour.
The main breed of hen used is Isa Browns. Hens are placed as day olds, raised at a "feeder farm" near Vacy with birds transferred to Numerella at about 16 weeks of age. They are then cared for and trained to lay in nest houses, in between their daily foray into free range areas. After approximately 14 months, egg laying of these hens declines to the point where it is uneconomical to keep them. They are then harvested for their meat. The sheds are cleaned and disinfected ready for the next cycle.
The total operation is audited firstly by Pace Farms, the NSW Food Authority and then Coles to ensure the "Coles Gold Specification" for Free Range Eggs is met.