Beef farmers could profit from use of technology

Basic technology could help beef and sheep production in the hills be more profitable, according to one Scottish beef producer.

Dumfriesshire farmer Neil Gourlay said simple technology could be used in beef production to make it more profitable.

“Technology doesn’t have to be complicated,” he told visitors at a New Smithfield seminar. “Take electronic weight scales; they are a vital piece of equipment, but many people don’t have a set. How can you possibly manage calves efficiently if you don’t know how much weight they are putting on?” he asked.

Mr Gourlay also talked about technologies such as cattle handling systems and use of TMR, but said one of the newest technology’s he was a great believer in was EBVs.

“It doesn’t cost you anything and it is a technology that can be used for guidance. Using technology doesn’t mean investing a lot, if anything, and it is often the simple things, like EBVs that pay.”

Neil Rowe, a beef farmer from Oxfordshire, also talked about the benefits of EID in his herd.

“EID is much more than just identifying the animal,” he said. “We often think the UK is ahead with technologies like EID, but in fact, the rest of the world is a long way in front of us.

“In South America EID and use of GPS has been instrumental in foot-and-mouth control, cutting disease control down from six months to three weeks, as they can locate animal movements,” he said.

Mr Rowe also explained how EID had the potential to improve margins significantly. “EID can help in management decisions. Take Net Feed Efficiency, if you record the weight of animals and amount of feed, you may find some animals from different sires are more efficient than others and that can help with breeding decisions in the future.”

Although Mr Rowe encouraged farmers to “get on and use EID” he did say the software let the system down at present.

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