`Encapsulated’ farm system a reality

`Encapsulated’ farm system a reality
Mustering at Fernvale with horses and dogs. The entire farming operation includes 40,000 stock units of sheep.

Lloyd and Angela Brenssell have been planning for years to make their farm an encapsulated system but it’s only fairly recently they’ve achieved their goal.
The operation now has a total of 9979 hectares over six units and they have managed to achieve climatic balance in their operation as their land blocks have varying rainfall and altitude.
The Fernvale block was the original home property that was purchased by the Brenssells in the 1900s. It is the base for the stud and the finishing block.
There are two run blocks with a nearby unit used as the run-off for these blocks.
The run blocks are used as their main breeding platform for the commercial operation running 7000 commercial Romney ewes and 850 Angus based breeding cows.
Lloyd says that the purchase of the Gem Lake run block and the run-off block were essentially the last pieces of the puzzle that enabled them to be self-contained.
Their farming operation also includes a 151ha block at Dalmuir Road, Ettrick where Lloyd’s parents reside. This was predominantly a dry land farm which has had irrigation installed on 30ha over the past two years.
It is utilised as a finishing block for anything from triplet-bearing ewes in the spring to lambs in the autumn.
Another 2000ha block nearby is utilised as a terminal operation for all of the B stock. Their entire farming operation includes 40,000 stock units of sheep and beef.
Lloyd says extending the farm road, that now runs from their block at Moa Flat right down to the Ettrick property, has enabled the stock and staff to travel easily around the units.
The operation also completes its own agricultural contracting work and baleage making. Lloyd says that with the Mycoplasma bovis scare this strategy has helped to secure their business. He says that the scare has been a wakeup call for the industry and highlights the need for greater accountability and to keep better records.
The Brenssells have always placed a great focus on adopting the latest technology and ideas in their operation.

`Encapsulated’ farm system a reality
Fernvale now has 9979 hectares over six units with varying rainfall and altitudes.

They invested in EID tags when they first came out and have become one of the development properties for FarmIQ software.
This software acts as an information hub, offers planning tools and helps them to compare performance among other things. All the staff carries smartphones that link with the Farm IQ program. The tractors are set up with a tablet and GPS system that are also linked to Farm IQ.
The financial side of the business is recorded and monitored using Cash Manager soft ware with the staff timesheets and stock reconciliations linked to Farm IQ. Lloyd says the software has markedly enhanced and transformed the way that they farm.
“If we want to be world leaders in our industry we need to invest in our operations and up-skill,” he says. Fernvale has seen three generations of the Brenssell family over the past 80 years develop the stud to its current status as an elite stud operation.
Technology has also played an important part in this aspect of the business. The stud is recorded using Macrostud and DNA technology has been implemented to capture pedigree information.
This means that stud mating is a combination of Lloyd’s eye appraisal and computer generated data. A substantial monetary investment has been made over the last five years to DNA profile all the stud Romney ewes and sires.
Stud lambing is completely unassisted and the lambs are not tagged until tailing time when they are DNA profiled and their parentage is determined at that stage.
says that this eliminates any disturbance to the stud ewes over lambing and any incorrect tagging errors in the paddock.
He says that the stud has entrenched key breeding policies that are used to produce animals that have the genetic make up to enhance the commercial operations of their clients.
Key policies include that only multiple born and reared animals are sold or retained in the stud, quality outside bloodlines are used every third generation, commercial pressure is applied through 40,000 stock units and all ewe hoggets are put to the ram.
They offer approximately 850 Romney, Romdale, Suffolk and Suftex rams for sale annually and demand exceeds supply on a regular basis. The commercial side of their sheep and beef operations also have to be profitable.
The commercial operation includes 14500 beef stock units with 1200 breeding cows.  Lloyd says now that they have reached their goal of an encapsulated farming system their strategy is to consolidate.
“We have a profitable system that is really showing some power. Now it’s about fine tuning and capitalising on what we’ve got.”
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