Critical need for data for effective health treatments

With only 10% of UK livestock farmers utilising weight data, there is significant room for improvement in savings, and effectiveness, on veterinary products in future farm management.

“Increasing efficiencies will protect your business from future volatilities, says Rob Massey, managing director of Tru-Test, who specialise in weighing and EID technologies.

“And to improve efficiencies, you need a base – a starting point from where to improve – otherwise how will you know that your performance is getting better?

“Data is king. It gives you a quantitative base to work from, analyse and make continual assessments of your business performance. If you look outside our industry, we are lagging behind in our data management, and this will have a serious impact on future profitability, unless we acknowledge the merits of data capture and the positive effects it will have on our business management.

“Relating this to animal health; we are all aware of the long-term implications of drug resistance. It is a major concern, and so we have a duty, and responsibility, to future generations, to ensure we are making targeted, effective health treatments in our livestock. And knowing the weight of the animals is absolutely critical for this – under dosing or overdosing has negative consequences. Guesswork in not acceptable.

“As we prepare for turnout, and spring and summer worming programmes, I strongly encourage farmers, to assess their farm weighing policy and consider if it is adequate. There is a whole range of new technology available that makes the process of weighing animals easy, quick and very cost effective. It’s a very worthwhile investment for any livestock farm committed to the future.

“I have often witnessed farmers guess the weight of cattle and be 20% out from the actual weight; just consider the amount of wormer that is incorrectly being applied. You cannot expect good results where doses are basically being guessed. Our industry needs to reform its approach to data collection and utilisation – and it will be a stronger, more profitable one for it,” he concludes.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.