Ag Journalist Ken Strugnell discovers an immaculate farm just outside Auckland.

On the coastal road from Auckland through to the Hauraki plains you pass by an unassuming road to the left that heads towards Orere Point.

“gives us the greatest bang for our buck”

Te Oranga Station at Orere Point is actually an amalgam of three local farms covers an area of 1150ha, has had extensive building earthworks and fencing done to a very high standard. Latest to see investment are the cattle handling facilities with a new set of Te Pari SY 150 yards a crush with load bars and an iScale. The whole yard area is concreted with high pressure hoses available to wash it down. The look of the yards and their surroundings showed real thought had gone into their placement. Easy access for stock trucks allows them to back up to ground level with the yards.

Te Oranga is managed by John McDowell. I met with John and one of his staff Richard Smith late one afternoon to find out about their farming operations and discuss their inclusion of the SY 150 Te Pari yards crush and weighing system, when upgrading the farms infrastructure.

“We winter 6500su here with all the baleage grown on the property. We have set the property up to maximise profit by working on maximum stock yield. That gives us the greatest bang for our buck” says John. “In practice that means keeping on top of growth rates by regular weighing to get stock off the property when it reaches the schedule and to feed more to underperforming animals to boost growth. This yard setup allows us to do just that, in safety and with the quickest possible turn around by three way drafting each mob. It works simply and is an easy one man operation. Without the yards we couldn’t run as profitably. They will pay for themselves, in great efficiency, in terms of labour and increased growth rates”

John’s background includes 25 yrs on a Wairoa Station that had an early set of Te Pari yards while Richard who hails from Northland also had experience with Te Pari on two properties he worked on.
“When it came to making the decision to build a new set of large centralised yards instead of the smaller ones scattered around the three properties Te Pari was the first choice for us as we knew what they could do for the farming operation, because without the right tools you can’t get the right result!”

“Safety is key on this property for staff and stock” said John as he got me to sign their Health and Safety register, on arrival. “With this setup we can both monitor stock health and assure safety of staff and visitors in and around the yards. As the owners are working towards a stud breeding program for the cattle operation it was vital for us to have a safe stock free viewing area and platform within the yards” John showed me the extra large man area and raised platform complete with steps up on to it.

John showed me the Te Pari crush complete with vet gates both sides. Also both sides have EID readers. John explained that he sometimes buys in stock and finds the ear tags in the wrong ear, so he asked Te Pari to fit readers to each side of the crush to reduce workload and any possible mistakes. “It’s very important we have accurate information, as in the long term it saves money and time. As we use the yards weekly,going back to redo any missed stock is not an option. The iScale info is sent to the computer so we can plan the feed and paddock requirements. We are also about to start a Stud breeding program so animal performance information is vital as is the history” “We tag at birth and EID log the mothers tag. The major benefit is that we can then target the meat markets for the best return. Without all these facilities we couldn’t run the business or expand into our Stud work. We’d lose productivity and profit would suffer.

Of course Te Pari allowed us to change the basic design to suit our needs. We added numerous extra gates and more raised walkways to ensure both safety and maximum utilisation of the yards” John says as he shows me the additions.

As the daylight fades John invites me to have a cuppa in the immaculately renovated station home that was moved onto the property just prior to his taking on the manager’s job. As with everything at Te Oranga everything is done to a high standard. Along with the Te Pari Yards the next step is to replace the woolshed and sheep handling facilities.
The plan is to keep improving the property to make it efficient, streamline the operation to keep overheads down, provide a safe working environment and consistently produce quality stock.

“Our investment in the Te Pari yards are part of that policy. They provide a safe working and demonstration environment for people and cattle”