Rob MooreRob Moore nurtures high grade finishing cattle on his farm in Cambridgeshire. And he does it whilst producing nutrient rich quality manure for an anaerobic digestion plant.
With a growing demand for green gas, beef cattle farmers are demonstrating a vital role in the UK’s future energy mix. Farm Manager Rob Moore runs a beef unit, supplying manure into an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, successfully creating energy from agricultural waste. However, data using AgriWebb’s livestock business management technology has been the key to proving the case for investment, enabling him to move forward.
The need for data
Prior to AgriWebb, Rob used an alternative livestock business management technology. However, he found the fact that it wasn’t cloud-based counterproductive. The stakeholders wanting to access the data couldn’t rely on it being up to date. As COVID arrived and Rob had to isolate himself, it became increasingly apparent that by signing up to AgriWebb, he could change the way he ran the farm. And by signing up to the AQM+ package he had an advisor that was empowered to help him even more.Rob used the insights from AgriWebb to secure investment, improve efficiencies, cost of production and aid future planning.
‘I’m constantly astonished by the lack of data farmers are functioning on’. – Rob Moore, Livestock Farmer
Proving the case for investment
Rob wanted to move to zero grazing: to drive his philosophy of “trust in grass”.
But he also wanted to remain in control of his own feed stocks and include grass in his feed ration. To do it he needed to secure investment for machinery: a front mower for his tractor and a self-loading wagon. Backed by investors, he had to prove the case for investment. With up-to-date, reliable data. By his own admission, this would have been extremely difficult to capture without stable livestock business management.
They tested the machinery, knew the theory and the investment required. But they lacked reliable, regular insights. Using livestock business management, such as, AgriWebb has enabled Rob to build up a bank of knowledge about every animal.And it has given him information he’s confident in.
By taking the cows off fruit and veg, and giving them a stable diet over 12 months, they’ve reduced feeding costs. And they can prove it is working through tracking cattle grades and weights using the livestock business management technology.
In 18 months, Rob has reduced his feed costs by 19%.
With the AgriWebb’s livestock business management being cloud-based, it means everyone from accountants to nutritionists can easily access the data captured on the farm. And at any given time. Whilst Rob maintains control of who can see and do what on the technology.
Gaining investment for the zero-grazing machinery means Rob lowers his cost of production. And he controls his own feed supply chain. He’s reassured he can feed a large sized herd reliably and sustainably, every day. With digestate from the AD plant going back on the grass, he knows he’s providing his cows with nutrient-rich, organic matter.
Capturing data early to learn early
Rob and James introduced a weighing protocol at the same time as mucking out. As that happens every four weeks, they capture useful data, regularly. They built a better picture quicker; seeing useful results from the livestock business management app in the first six months.
By capturing all their livestock data and monitoring daily light weight gains, they proved they were already saving money. Within 12 months, showing performance data that informed a collaborative management plan, resulting in increased carcass weight and an improved number of kills per year, from an average of 42 weeks to 48.
AQM+ Partnership = Production Control
Having easily-accessible and accurate farm data really helps empower advisors to help farmers. Rob had support from James Doel and the AQM+ programme. James helped with the transition one technology and the new livestock business management. By analysing the information in AgriWebb, James advises on the best performing cattle (including understand where the best bought-in cattle came from), helps monitor the best feed-mix and keeps an eye on weight gains to ensure maximum production and welfare. He helps to build the bigger picture. And Rob can focus on smooth day-to-day operations on farm.
James says, ‘AgriWebb presents information in a clear, transparent manner so you can interpret the data and take action‘. And it isn’t just James to uses the livestock business management technology to help Rob.
The AgriWebb platform has enabled key stakeholders to talk remotely about the performance of certain breeds and make better informed management decisions, adding value and better production control.
Empowering advisors to help with livestock productivity.
By comparison arable farmers and agronomists have been accessing similar software models for years, so beef farmers can now make smart and timely decisions through similar insights.
Rob believes some farms are still underutilising the value they hold in livestock, because they evaluate beasts by eye. He says, ‘We need to capture and utilise accurate data to manage our animals’. By being transparent and sharing farm insights and performance, Rob has seen the whole enterprise benefit.
Farming can be unpredictable, but with an experienced team linked to accurate data, Rob finds that they can take a step back and look at the whole business. They can make little but effective changes, as and when required, with experts dipping in and out.
As a result, the farm has improved their ability to measure the feed given to cattle, as well as adjust feed according to live daily weight gain. So, cows meet their target pre-slaughter weight goals, ensuring they are at an optimum weight for a better-quality meat and a higher price.
Visibility and time savings with technology
With constantly updated reporting for financial teams, vets and nutritionists, Rob spends far less time producing reports and handing over insights. The team logs in and accesses what they need, when they need it. They are confident in the farm’s performance because they can see what’s happening for themselves. And meetings by phone or on-farm focus on next steps, not on retrieving metrics from memory.
Rob says, ‘We’ve become completely transparent and gained enormously as a result’.
Changing old habits.
However, replacing old habits and trusting technology rather than reaching for paper and pen takes time and resilience. But Rob sees how worthwhile that change has been for him and the farm.
Given the challenges currently facing the sector, for some farmers, human expertise has proved helpful to make the most of livestock business management. This is where Rob has found the AQM partnership so helpful: having guidance to help him innovate has been invaluable, whilst AgriWebb has helped identify and evidence his decision-making.
According to Rob, ‘Capturing data is only half the equation, it’s what you do with it that counts‘.
From the insights gained, Rob and James decided to switch abattoir, achieving a 1.29% improvement on kill-out as a result. That might sound insignificant, but with each carcass weighing 300kg, that is an additional 3.78kg. In current prices that equals over £16, and makes all the difference.
James thinks that using livestock business management on farm can really empower decision-making. ‘Sometimes a simple management decision can help make a massive difference’, he says.
And that is the real story, that the information that technology can give you, can empower everyone to ensure the farm succeeds well into the future.