Breedr, the precision livestock network, has launched a new initiative to help suckler producers become more profitable and resilient at a time of intense change.
SucklerClub brings together a calendar of free webinars in conjunction with AHDB, an A3 wall planner, technical guides and benchmarking, all designed to help farmers maximise returns.
“Small management tweaks can add up to a significant improvement in fertility, productivity and profitability,” explains Ian Wheal, founder of Breedr. “Farmers are looking to future-proof their businesses and make them resilient to changing policies and international competition. We are passionate about improving their returns, which is why we’ve produced this time-saving suite of tools for everyone to use.”
The team has developed a calendar of key tasks for both spring-calving and autumn-calving herds, covering genetic and fertility objectives, calving and weaning tasks, and key performance indicator (KPI) goals. Farmers can then record individual stock information in the free Breedr app, which produces a report detailing key metrics to give a deeper understanding of their business.
Under the imminent paid-for Benchmark service, farmers can create enhanced reports to benchmark against both AHDB KPIs and other suckler producers, and use that information to improve future decision-making.
“We know from industry research that traditional cattle breeding programmes can take 10-15 years to reach maturity,” says Mr Wheal. “But by recording their herd performance throughout each breeding cycle, farmers can accelerate herd fertility, cow output and profitability.”
Free webinars featuring industry experts will complement the calendar, alongside a series of professional guides on the website, covering service, calving, weaning, nutrition, health, finishing, and winter / summer jobs. “We have drawn on expert advice from across the industry to create practical, impartial guides for producers,” adds Mr Wheal. “We will also be following a couple of young farmers through their journey to share challenges, successes and best practice.”
Charlie Beaty is one of those who will be sharing her journey at The Dairy Farm, Coventry, Warwickshire, where she keeps 85 suckler cows with her father and uncle. Using data to hone the herd’s performance is a key focus for the family as they adapt to the phasing out of direct farm support payments.
“I’ll definitely use the SucklerClub management guides and I think the ability to log KPIs and benchmark will be really useful for making improvements,” says Ms Beaty. “Things are changing drastically in UK agriculture with the loss of support payments, and going digital is arguably the easiest way to improve our business performance.”
Rob Halliday has been using Breedr at Hepwell Farm, Liskeard, Cornwall, since he and his wife Louise established the herd – which has now grown to 70 suckler cows. Due to the cows’ mixed genetics, he’s trying to selectively breed for strong offspring growth rates, so weighs regularly and records everything in the app.
“We can see which animals aren’t performing and weed them out,” he says. “I have all the information at my fingertips. Benchmarking is also very important; it’s key to see how you are operating against others. As farmers, our core business model has got to be really sound, and that’s one of my reasons for joining Breedr.”
• Farmers can join SucklerClub by downloading the free Breedr app at www.breedr.co. Breedr is also offering a 25% rebate on Tru-Test scales and equipment with its new Get Weighing Grant. For more information visit www.breedr.co/shop or call 01243 210286.