Switch on to a way of beating red tape
By John Burns
FARMERS son Walter Burrough reckons he can help beef cattle producers who are being bogged down by paperwork and regulations.
He is offering a service which, he claims, is almost as easy as watching TV.
His Cattle Controller service (www.cattlecontroller.co.uk) stores cattle records on a powerful central computer in Herts.
Producers enter details of their cattle, such as births, deaths, parentage, sales, purchases, medicines given and withdrawal periods, subsidy claims and retention periods, via the internet and the program stores all the information, and automatically calculates important dates, works out which cattle are affected by them, and gives warnings about them by e-mail.
The service will also apply to the British Cattle Movements Service for calf passports and send movement details to it.
When Mr Burrough started developing the service the central computer could only be contacted using a home computer connected to the internet. But the new WAP-enabled mobile phones can now be used to access the computerised records as well as TV internet boxes.
Users can sit in an armchair with the keypad on their knee and the box on top of the TV, says Mr Burrough. There are no cables between the keypad and the box or TV set, though the box has to be connected to a phone socket.
Connection to the Cattle Controller web-site is easy and fast, and the instructions and records appear on the TV screen.
The internet TV box system is not quite as useful as a computer-based system for other internet work. For instance, you cannot access some web-sites, and while you can use it to send e-mail messages, you cannot send attachments with the messages.
Mr Burrough uses an NTLWorld TV internet box which is leased for £10 a month. The TV set must have a SCART socket to take the connection from the box. There is a package deal available which includes cut-price phone calls plus free internet access if your bill for phone calls is more than £10 a month.
Mr Burrough charges £10 a month for Cattle Controller, meaning it costs a total of £20 a month for the box plus service. There is no expenditure on a computer or computer programs, which typically cost £300-£400, and much less risk of losing information through computer crashes. There are also other suitable TV Internet boxes available for sale or hire. *
Accessing information via Cattle Controller might be as easy as watching TV, says Walter Burrough.
• Uses internet TV.
• No computer required.
• Costs £20 a month in total.