7th Asian-Australasian Conference on Precision Agriculture, 15th-20th October 2017

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Pete Watt - Brownrigg Agriculture

“... in today's environment you've got to be far more efficient and accurate in all aspects of farming, in particular stock recording." 

brownriggagriculture2I manage an 840ha Brownrigg Agriculture property south of Havelock North, finishing around 14,000 lambs a year and with 500 yearling bulls, 150 rising two year old bulls and 300 Wagyu. For 35 years I’ve been from the “eyeometer” school of farming. But I’ve realised that in today’s environment you’ve got to be far more efficient and accurate in all aspects of farming, in particular stock recording.

I first saw the benefits watching stud breeders using EID with Wagyu cattle and I thought to myself; “If they can do that with stud cattle breeding, why can’t I do it with sheep too?”  At that stage I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it with sheep, and I thought if we could get lambs EIDed coming on to the property the efficiency gains would be huge. Everyone seems to be out there competing against everyone else. There’s a real opportunity to use EID to link lamb breeders with professional lamb finishers and processors to obtain maximum value for the breeder from each lamb and to give certainty to all participants in the supply and availability of lambs throughout a season. That way breeders can receive full value for their own lambs grown to maximum potential, protection against falling schedules and more flexibility in decision making when the weather dictates. Finishers need to make no capital outlay and the EID-linked database can then be used to enhance selection of replacements and maximise future genetic performance.

I think as an industry we would be more efficient if lambs remained the property of the breeder, and professional finishers’ sole objective was to put weight on the lamb. The more we reduce the trading of lambs the greater the profitability all-round, and from the time the lamb is born the meat company is involved, giving them greater confidence in supply and the ability to reward farmers accordingly. I really enjoy new challenges and solving problems – my experience with Tru-Test and EID has opened a new door on opportunities and I see enormous potential to keep doing things better. Accurate recording – in other words understanding – is at the heart of this.

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