Measuring to manage at The Sisters Pastoral Co
The Sisters Pastoral Co., based in southwest Victoria, operates across 2,200 hectares and three properties. Run by James and Georgie Knight, the core business is beef breeding; last October, they joined 1,600 females, with steer progeny going into a feedlot destined for the overseas premium beef market. Today, AgriWebb is supporting The Sisters Pastoral’s day-to-day operations, and helping the Knight’s realise their long-term business goals.
Bringing business best practice to the family operation
In 2016, James and Georgie Knight headed back to the country after a stint in Melbourne, where James and Georgie both worked in corporate roles, to take over The Sisters Pastoral.
“We wanted to run this family business in a corporate manner,” James says. “I wanted to have the systems and processes we did in Melbourne and be accountable for our actions with some clear direction of where we were headed.”
As they put an advisory board in place and developed a growth strategy, it became clear they would need an updated way to record and report. They found it in AgriWebb.
“I can’t emphasise enough how powerful AgriWebb is for our business,” James says. “Records are so accurate and can be done on the run, at the push of a button. The subscription is a drop in the ocean for the time it costs you on a paper based system.”
AgriWebb keeps records centrally, in the cloud, so they are always accessible. “I was spending so many hours in notebooks, and transferring records in the office. That’s time at the end of the day you could be spending time with your family,” James says.
“AgriWebb has made it easy for us to actually make use of the data we are collecting. Livestock reconciliation for example, which had been very messy, has become seamless.”
Detailed records of feed-on-offer measurements and livestock age, class, and stocking rate by paddock mean James knows exactly what is happening on his property.
“Having really, really good records means that you have an intimate knowledge of the business,” he says. “I have a really good record of paddock and business performance and a better understanding of our stocking rate, which is our key profit driver.”
Over four years, the Knights increased their stocking rate by more than 45%. Producing more beef per hectare has a clear correlation with increased profitability. At the same time, making the most of pastures has reduced inputs per animal for a more sustainable operation, both economically and environmentally.
The complete livestock business management solution
Aside from creating powerful business insights, AgriWebb increases efficiency across the Knights’ operation. James started using the task management function to ensure he and his staff are on the same page, “it enables me to manage their workloads with lists of high, medium and low priority tasks, and they have all taken to it pretty seamlessly.”
One AgriWebb feature that attracted James was its user interface. From its inception, AgriWebb’s software was designed to operate on a mobile device so producers could capture data on the run.
“It’s a real credit to everyone at AgriWebb how they’ve built out the programme’s functionality as time has gone on,” James says.
Staff members have adopted the system with ease. “Our two employees are mid-twenties and pretty savvy with their phones, to be fair, but their feedback was that it’s simple to use, and they could confidently do everything that they need to do.”
He believes that even technophobes will find the system easy to navigate. “A friend in the Northern Tablelands said he’s keen to get on AgriWebb, but he’s worried about setting up the farm. I said you need to bite the bullet and set it up. It’s a no-brainer – once you’ve got it set up, it’s just so easy to use.”
Getting ahead of the game
James is convinced that the up-to-date and accurate records that AgriWebb gives him will be increasingly important in the livestock industry moving forward, where there is a desire for transparency and traceability from consumers.
“We are now in a world where we are producing food for a consumer base that wants to know where food is coming from,” he says. “AgriWebb is a digital platform that allows me to be completely transparent. I know on a daily basis where the business is at and what the animals are doing. I’ll essentially be able to supply that data across the supply chain wherever it is needed.”
His outlook reflects what we found in AgriWebb’s State of the Global Farmer Report. With 54.4% of Australian respondents involved in value-added or compliance programs, the value of transparency around animal production was widely accepted.
“Moving forward, there will be a need to have intimate knowledge of what’s going on at a sustainability and environmental level, and to pass that on to the consumer who is purchasing the product,” James says.
“I have no doubt that in my lifetime, we will be selling beef where I will need to be able to stand behind my records, my data and the way that we farm to be able to sell it at all – that’s my gut feel – and using AgriWebb means that we can do that.”
If you’d like to explore whether AgriWebb is the right fit for your operation, you can check out our FREE interactive demo here.
*Hero image source: Nathan Dyer