Hugh and Noelene Donald of Toa Toa Farming


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2024 Horizons Finalist: Hugh and Noelene Donald of Toa Toa Farming – Sheep and Beef

Breeding, genetics, and animal health provide the foundation for this successful sheep and beef farm, with this supported by a strong focus on conserving the environment. 
Hugh and Noelene Donald are also genuinely devoted to the wellbeing of their staff, treating them like family in return for their valued efforts.  
Toa Toa Farming spans 1,097ha (1,018ha effective), including a 327ha slice off the original Donald brothers farm that has been in the family since the 1940s. Toa Toa was formed in 2017 when the partnership of B.A.Donald and Sons was dissolved. Active succession planning is underway to ensure it is handed to the next generation. 
The main focus is breeding sheep and cattle for high-quality markets. The judges were impressed by the approach to genetics, and animal health which is resulting in exceptional stock performance.  
Genetic information is collected on each stud calf, with their weights and performance data closely tracked. A new reticulated system provides troughed water to 580ha of the property, while its rich soils are the result of careful fertiliser use, regular soil testing and excellent pasture management. 
Both Hugh and Noelene feel privileged to have grown up on farms. They’re striving to leave the property and business in a better position than they found it, and a key part of this is a strong focus on conserving the environment. 
Riparian planting is a standout feature, with more than 16ha of riparian margins fenced off – filtering sediment and nutrients, stemming erosion and providing shade. 10,000 mixed trees have been planted, and planning is underway to plant a further 10,000. Poplar poles and mānuka are planted on erosion-prone slopes. 
Noelene and Hugh are generous with their extensive business knowledge, sharing it with staff and the wider community including up-and-coming farmers. 

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