With increasing demands on farmers, software options that save time, and offer potential improvements in animal productivity, need to be considered for future farm profitability.
William Cawley and Matthew Ingram, who recently completed a major expansion project to milk a herd of 500 cows under The Cawley Farms Partnership in Shropshire, knew that efficiencies needed to be a major focus for future management practices to ensure the success of their new investment.
And that investment was significant; including a new cubicle shed, slurry lagoon, milking parlour, cow tracks and grassland, increasing the herd from 180 cows, additional machinery and staff recruitment.
With autumn block calving, and 245 of the cows calving inside the first 13 days, technology plays a vital role – not just in time savings, but also by taking the worry out of the job.
“When you’re recording ear tag numbers manually across this number of cows, it’s obvious you’re going to make some mistakes. I used to spend a lot of time chasing errors now, quite simply, there’s no room for them,” said Matthew Ingram.
Matthew invested around £2000 in his Tru-Test XRS stick reader, and a Tru-Test weigh platform, the EziWeigh 7i that is easy to move between buildings or units.
“To me, having this equipment is an absolute no-brainer. It saves valuable time and money – one person can do a job it used to take two of us to do. It gets rid of paper, is 100% accurate, and makes tedious routines such as TB testing, AI and general recording so easy.”
“We actually bought the equipment initially to get accurate weight records,” he says. “The first thing we did was weigh all our calves and, to be honest, we were horrified. They should have weighed 150kgs and a lot weighed 110kgs. We’ve tended to weigh a group at a time, and this gives a group average – even with the poor weights the group average was looking OK. So, it was easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. Now, each time an individual cow is weighed, we can see her daily liveweight gain, and keep a very close track on how she’s doing. Managing individual animals results in a stronger, healthier herd – and alerts us quickly toany animals that are not performing so we can make informed decisions on how to manage.”
“Every member of staff has the Tru-Test app on their smartphone, so record keeping across the farm is kept simple. “We’ve definitely got a lot smarter with this software. We’ve halved the amount of time we spend doing AI, certainly halved the time it takes to keep records, and quite honestly, I don’t have to worry about the accuracy of what’s happening. It’s idiot proof and I would be completely lost without it.
“Matthew has seen the huge benefits of investing in EID and weighing equipment,” said Rob Massey, Managing Director of Tru-Test, who specialise in weighing and EID technologies. “And it really is an easy and very effective solution for many livestock farmers. Saving time of paperwork and having the confidence in your records is incredibly valuable and frees up time to focus on other farm tasks. I advise all livestock farmers to consider this technology and how it can improve the bottom line in their business.”