Fewer days; more dollars.
A Fiordland farm manager says farmers need to make sure they understand the opportunity in their business.
Greg Crombie of Duncraigen Farm says farm management software gives farmers the power of numbers that can help them see where to put their effort to improve farm production and profit. “Over the next 10 to 20 years the real gains for farming are going to come out of technology.”
On Duncraigen, software is showing how they can get lambs off more than two weeks earlier, as well as making the admin side much easier.
Duncraigen is a 1180-effective ha property beside Lake Manapouri where they focus on producing finished lambs and stud Angus bulls. They run 8000 stock units, buying in extra lambs to finish each year as well as ewe replacements.
Last year Duncraigen, a Landcorp property, earned $1500 a hectare in gross farm income, with lambing at 140 to 150%. They’re targeting 75 percent of lambs being sent off at weaning and this year sent 73 percent at 18.5kg. Greg has been on Duncraigen for 2 and a half years and works with three staff.
Greg values their farm management software because it gives him a “real-time” view of what’s happening – which he can use for making decisions. “The aim is to crank out as many kilograms of carcase weight as we can out the gate. Our drivers are days to kill or days to sell. The software really helps us to look at that.”
He and his three staff use mobile phones to record information as they go. “When you’re drenching lambs, it used to be done when you’d cleaned the gun and put it away. Now, it’s not done till you have put the information in to your online record.
“Using the phone app means it’s not about being in the office. We are working toward running a paperless business now. It does everything you need."
SEEING THE DIFFERENCE
“You can take the farm management software where you like," says Greg. "It’s a good idea to start with basic recording and see the value in it. You can see: if we do this, we get this.
“A few weeks ago we weighed a mob of 38 bulls that had done 0.9kg over the previous month. That was below our target of 1.0kg growth a day to get them to 630kg by 10 March, so we added some baleage to their diet for more protein.”
Duncraigen are putting tags on 10 percent of the lamb mobs they buy in for finishing and finding there’s a big difference in the growth rates of different lines. “It can be a 40 to 50 grams a day difference for lambs from different farms or areas,” Greg says. That 40 or 50g-a-day difference means 15 days less on the farm or a return of 25 cents per kilogram of dry matter (DM) versus around 20 cents per kg – a lift of 25 percent.
“So we know where to go to source faster-growing lambs, year in and year out. Till we did this recording, we didn’t know. You can test breed differences and all sorts of things.”
When Duncraigen animals are shifted onto new grass, brassica or lucerne, that’s noted so the Duncraigen team can see any difference in growth rate related to feed.
“You know where you want to be. You can see what the opportunity is. And the question is, how can we extract that?
“With this software you can see how you’re going, so you can address any soft spots. If the top lambs are doing 350 grams per day and you’ve got a month where they did 250 grams, you can look at why.
“The software gives you benchmarking that’s not comparing over a few thousand lambs like we used to, but several thousands. It’s a huge amount of data. That’s your opportunity – there is financial value there. You look to the facts. That’s why I say it’s a wake-up call.
“You need to know what growth rates your lambs are doing – and if the top quarter are doing 350 grams per day and you’re doing 150 – that’s real dollars you could gain.”
“Plus you might see the average is 200 grams per day post weaning, and a lot are not doing 120 grams per day. It’s really powerful when you’re dealing with those numbers.”
“It’s bigger than growing grass now. Growing grass is still a foundation block, but you’ve got to look at the new tools out there.”
Want to get a better handle on the opportunity in your farm business? Check out this farm management software...