Data collection can be a time consuming business. As farmers, collecting data to comply with any number of Government schemes, regulations and legislation can be tedious. But, there are opportunities to turn this data into a competitive advantage.
Hollie Edwards, a Vet at Wright & Morten Vets in Cheshire, spoke to us about where she sees the valuable opportunities.
Improving Calving Performance
By collecting PD scan data, farmers have the opportunity to identify more accurate timing for calving. With this information, farmers can plan ahead to benefit from a more efficiently managed calving period, delivering cost efficiencies and improved calf health.
Ian Norbury, who runs the family farm in Cheshire has used the information he collected in Livestock Manager to help him improve calving. As a result he calved 112 cows this year compared with 70 last year, reduced the calving period from 21 to 15 weeks and now aims to finish animals for slaughter between 16 and 21 months, after one winter inside.
Focusing Resources Productively
With the right information, farmers will be able to identify unproductive cows much more quickly making better culling decisions and preventing a waste of resources being spent on cows that are never going to deliver.
Again, Ian plans to use this information to improve the performance of his beef business:
“I’m aiming to build the herd up to about 150-head,” explains Ian. “I’ll then cull the lowest performing cows so I end up with a slightly smaller ‘super group’ of cows that perform really well but require low management.”
Balancing Calf Weight with Cow Recovery
By weighing calves every month from the age of 1 month, farmers will be able to make more confident decisions as to when to finish animals to maximise their weight, whilst providing sufficient time for the cow to recover.
“Finding a balance between securing a healthy calf weight and giving a cow enough recovery time, can be challenging but again, data can really help”, says Hollie. And by using the more modern weigh scales data will automatically upload into Livestock Manager making data collection a breeze!
Premium Price Opportunities
Finding a premium for your beef is a great way to increase your profit margin and data will support your efforts here. If you want to brand your beef as Aberdeen Angus, then you need to be collecting sire data, yet AHDB Beef & Lamb records show only 23% of beef farmers actually do this. An easy thing to fix, with a great financial return for your efforts.
These are just four data opportunities which can make a real difference to your productivity, but as Hollie says:
“The possibilities are endless. Wherever there is data that can be recorded, measured and analysed, there is the potential for that data to make a huge difference.”
Here’s a list of other areas where data can be used to improve performance, find efficiencies and develop confidence that the decisions you’re making will benefit the farm:
- Calving ease
- Veterinary interventions
- Vaccination programme
- Grazing management
- Fatality data
- Date bulls went in and out
Read more about Farmplan’s Cattle Manager to see how it could benefit the performance of your farm business.