Free app shown to trim feed costs and boost profits

UK beef farmers could boost profits by £100 a head and collectively save £650m a year in feed costs by finishing more animals in-spec – and a free app can help them do it.
calendar icon 22 October 2020
clock icon 3 minute read

Breedr – the brainchild of an Australian beef farmer and developed in the UK with the help of producers throughout the supply chain – measures and monitors individual cattle data and predicts optimum finishing times based on actual growth rates. In addition, it’s helping farmers to form private integrated supply chains, removing unnecessary costs and improving transparency to the benefit of all.

“We already have 900 farmers using the app, and analysis of their kill-sheets shows that 79 percent of their cattle hit top specification versus an industry average of 55 percent,” explains Breedr founder Ian Wheal. “If you roll that out across the UK beef sector, that’s 474,320 more animals in prime beef spec each year.”

In addition, Breedr farmers finish their cattle five months earlier than the industry average, saving 1.8 tonnes of feed per head and reducing their carbon footprint by 20 percent.

“There are a lot of changes coming down the pipeline for UK beef producers – and proving the value and quality of our beef will be vital,” says Mr Wheal. “Out-of-spec beef leads to a poor consumer experience, but data silos throughout the supply chain make it really hard for farmers to get feedback. Our app facilitates that flow of information so that finishers, store producers and calf rearers can all identify the best genetics, best management and best suppliers to improve productivity every step of the way.”

The phone app syncs with the British Cattle Movement Service to carry all the information about animals in a herd. Producers can scan an electronic ID or enter passport information to see everything about an animal, with the ability to record medicine usage to Red Tractor standards.

But the most valuable feature is weight recording and predicted finishing dates, says beef producer and Breedr product manager James Wright. “This is a really powerful tool. You can manually or automatically read weights in Crush Mode and based on actual growth rates predict the optimum slaughter date. This means you can plan your feeding, sales and cash flow. It’s made my herd management so much easier.”

Anonymous benchmarking against comparable farms and having proven weigh data means producers can both further improve efficiencies and command a premium for their finished stock, he adds.

In addition, they can take a loan secured on the value of their cattle to cover the cost of feed or replacements, and sell direct to a processor through the app, which relays processor demand for spot or forward purchasing.

The app is soon to launch an enhanced live marketplace, that will make it even easier for farmers to form their own integrated supply chains, buying and selling stock with proven traceability and weight history.

Changing industry demands – like having to trace dairy bull calves for the first eight weeks of life, and increased competition through trade deals – mean there are both challenges and opportunities ahead for the British beef industry, says Mr Dear. “We’re going to have to be ultra-efficient and work together to ensure a consistent supply of top-quality cattle. Breedr can help us to do that.”

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