18 February 2000

Signet set to cut pedigree record cost

PEDIGREE beef and sheep producers recording with Signet are to pay less for the service after a radical business shake-up on Apr 1.

The move means Signet is to refocus its business, with consultants now specialising in either breeding or business management. Six have either been made redundant or taken early retirement as a consequence.

Advisers concentrating on breeding consultancy will be responsible for the firms pedigree recording services Beefbreeder and Sheepbreeder. Under the new arrangement, consultants will be assigned to individual breeds, and will help breed societies pursue their objectives, says a spokeswoman.

Pedigree beef and sheep producers recording under the schemes will be invited to two regional meetings each year for their particular breed. These will deal with understanding individual recording figures and genetic improvement, and will replace on-farm visits by breeding consultants. Signet technicians will continue to collect data and carry out fat and muscle scanning.

Removing the need for routine visits means producers bills will be cut. As an example, the company says 50-ewe flocks will be charged £310 a year to cover all recording and fat and muscle scanning. This compares with the previous cost of £365 a year plus an additional fee of up to £150 for scanning.

Costs will also fall for cattle breeders. The recording fee for herds with 20 cows or less will be £165 a year, a fall of £35 a year, with an optional scanning visit costing £125, or less where shared visits are possible. Herds with more than 20 cows will pay £10.25 an animal, which will include a technician scanning visit. The upper fee limit will be £550.

While the breeding service is being revamped, Signet will also increase its business consultancy in England and Wales under the Signet Select brand, while its farm business consultancy in Scotland will be taken over by SAC.

Signet Select will concentrate on whole-farm business planning, farm finance management, Agenda 2000 subsidy planning and technical advice, including organic farming consultancy. Its Beefplan and Flockplan recording systems have also been upgraded.

The organisations pig service is to remain unchanged. But Signet is planning to extend consultancy to dairy producers later this year. &#42