Tocal is a 2200 hectare property in the NSW Hunter Valley. The property includes the Tocal College, Paterson campus and the Tocal Homestead heritage precinct. Tocal farm staff operate a commercial beef herd, stock horse breeding, dairy and free-range egg production as well as a demonstration sheep flock and bee hives used in training.

A huge amount of detail about the property and farms is available on the Tocal Virtual Farm including links to maps, videos and images and a property and farms pdf document.

Fast facts
 Details
Area 1500 hectares, made up of prime pasture, medium pasture and poor pasture land as well as bushland. 10 km from front boundary (the Paterson River) to the back boundary and approximately 2 km across
Herd size Between 800 and 1400 depending on the time of the year and seasonal conditions
Cows/breeding herd 300 Brangus, 100 Shorthorn, 100 Angus and 100 Charolais
Bulls Angus, Brangus, Charolais and Shorthorn
Market Sale of Brangus weaners and yearlings on local stores market.
Calving Mainly in spring. 93% calving, 90% weaning
Fencing 80 km with 55 km of boundary fence
Paddocks/dams 45 paddocks, 26 dams
Roads 40km roads and formed tracks
Rainfall 950mm (40”) on average. Seasonal variability is significant for example 2016 was a very tough winter with below-average rain and no decent runoff rain to fill dams in 12 months. Even with a tough season, spring rainfall ensured the production of 220 round bales of hay and 25 round bales of silage.

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 Details
Area 80 ha of irrigated land and 220 ha dryland
Herd size

Numbers can fluctuate throughout the year but average number of milkers are given below:

  • 2017-18 = 280
  • 2016 = 200
  • 2015 = 225
  • 2014 = 225
  • 2013 = 180

A highlight in 2018 was a significant improvement in reproductive performance for the herd. This has been a real problem in past years but now has turned around significantly with the herd now meeting all industry targets for average Days in Milk (DIM) with 57% of the herd ; 150 DIM with average DIM at 155days (industry target is 160-180 days), 80 day submission rate at 67% and 100 day in calf rate at 33%.

Herd compositionGreat majority are Holstein (95%) with some Illawarra and Illawarra cross from a previous herd acquisition. In the past Tocal has run a Jersey bull with maiden heifers and approximately 6 Jersey x Holsteins remain in the herd.
Milk per cow/dayFluctuates with season and ‘freshness’ of herd (i.e. average number of days since calving, also called average Days In Milk (DIM) or Days Open). Common range between 22-30 L per day. Target around 25 L averaged over the year and currently around 24 Litres.


Fast facts
 Details
Property nameNumeralla
Area35 hectares
Number of sheds 5 (8,762m2)
Free-range area11 hectares
Capacity90,000 hens
BreedIsa Brown
MarketFree-range eggs under contract to Pace Farms
Production20 million free-range eggs per year

The 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.

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Working25 Australian Stock Horses for working cattle
Breakers20 for horse breeding student training
Broodmares25 Australian Stock Horse mares for breeding replacements
Stallions2 Australian Stock Horse
Foals 20
Yearlings 20

Fast facts
 Details
Property nameBona Vista
Purchased1974
Area100 hectares
Flock 250-350 Dohne sheep
Maremma guard dog2
Wool production7 bales on average per year
Prime lambs/yearApproximately 200 per year at 40-42 kg liveweight


Property resources

Tocal is located in the lower Paterson Valley of the New South Wales Hunter Valley. The Paterson River is one of several tributaries to the Hunter River that enters the Pacific Ocean at Newcastle. The property contains a range of natural ecosystems, from rainforest remnants and wetlands to dry sclerophyll forests.

Water

Reliable and high-quality stock water is required for each paddock on Tocal. The property is fortunate in having areas of wetland, lagoons, creeks and the Paterson River as natural water resources.

These water bodies, however, can be easily degraded by poor management, and the results of past misuse are evident.

water on farm

Pastures

As a general rule introduced pastures are concentrated towards the front of the property and native pastures at the back of the property.

The current management objective is to maintain a balance between the two, so that we can take advantage of both the adaptive nature of native species to environmental conditions and the higher productivity potential of introduced species.

pastures

Soils

Soils form a complex pattern across the property. This can be simplified by looking at the soil landscapes.

That is the uplands or hills with erosional soil landscapes, the floodplain with alluvial (made up of materials left by rivers) soil landscapes, the midslopes with colluvial (soil accumulated at the base of a hill usually moved by gravity) soil landscapes and the vestigial soil landscapes that remain as evidence of volcanic activity.

Each of the soils represents different production and management opportunities.

Soil