Welsh Farm Business Grant Case Study

TA Jones and sons is family-run, Welsh holding of around 220 head of Aberdeen Angus cattle and 130 sheep. They hold the majority of their stock from calf through to finish; often purchasing additional cattle depending on the quality and availability of grazing.

The risk to future subsidies, tariffs, and the loss of price controls – as a result of Brexit – has encouraged them to increase their farm’s efficiency and profitability.
Following a consultation with his wife and sons Mr Jones was able to identify a number of key problems:

  • They were spending a huge amount of time manually completing legislative documents, including BCMS notifications.
  • Despite the work being completed, they were concerned that some records – for example, cattle treatment records – were not being updated promptly or accurately enough.
  • They were losing revenue through illness and late pregnancy loss. Mr Jones was keen to identify which of his sires was performing best.

Solution

By researching these problems online and talking with neighbouring farmers, they were able to identify existing technological solutions for each of these problems. What’s more, the Farm Business Grant would provide a valuable contribution towards these investments.

Updated load-bars and a modern weigh-head would allow Mr Jones to accurately weigh and record his livestock. This would provide valuable, performance related data. The addition of an EID logger such as the Psion would allow Mr Jones to log weights and actions against individual animals in real time, in the field.

By tracking calf weight-gain, medical records and food consumption over time, Mr Jones can link calf performance back to the sires and dams. In turn, this information can inform future decisions regarding which animals to breed in order to produce the most profitable calves.

This information by itself is valuable, however, it is more powerful when fed into livestock management software, for example Farmplan’s Livestock Manager. The Farm Business Grant contributed towards the cost of a business laptop which would effectively run this software.

Livestock Manager links with the weigh head and Psion to automatically update individual calf, cow and sire records and automatically notify BCMS of movements and tracks treatments. Legislative documents can be produced at the touch of a button and powerful reporting helps sign-post the most effective ways for increasing efficiency and profitability.

Outcome

With the backing of Farmplan’s support and training team, Mr Jones has started to collect simple, but powerful data around their livestock. In time, they will be able to identify the cows and bulls responsible for the healthiest and fastest growing calves; increasing profitability by avoiding: miscarriages, excess treatment costs, and excessive fed.

These increases in efficiency should also coincide with an increase in revenue by producing heavier and higher-classification calves.

In the short term, eliminating paper records and using Livestock Manager’s automated BCMS notifications and reporting features has meant an immediate saving in the amount of time spent in the office.

*This is a fictional case study which has been created in order to provide readers with an indication of how the Farm Business Grant could be utilised.