Healthy lower weight cattle, finished rapidly, are more profitable and produce less greenhouse gases over their lifetime, the Field2Yield study has revealed. This unique analysis of six years of real-world data by Breedr, developers of a precision livestock app, together with Rothamsted Research North Wyke Farm, has identified ways to identify the point of ‘peak profit’ for producers while curbing cattle emissions. Ian Wheal, founder of Breedr, is to discuss these insights alongside Sainsbury’s, IBM and Topsector Agrifood at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in Amsterdam this week.
The project aimed to develop metrics that would help a producer predict when an animal should be sold to get maximum returns and also how to improve the herd so that offspring would consistently meet processor specifications.
Historical data along with additional rump width, length, hip, height and body length measurements were analysed to develop models that would allow farmers to benchmark their performance. For example, growth curves were used to compare consumption over a lifetime for animals that were the same weight at slaughter. This showed that fast finishers are more profitable.
Ian Wheal comments: “Field2Yield demonstrated that growth curve analysis offers the potential to estimate the gross feed consumption and emissions of individual cattle, enabling a deeper understanding of the economic and environmental efficiency of livestock production.
“This rigorous science underpins our platform, which offers for the first time objectivity and a data driven approach to the livestock supply chain.”
As animals get larger their efficiency decreases, so giving farmers the tools to make the decision when to send an animal off would improve profitability and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Dr Andrew Cooke, livestock scientist at Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke ‘farm lab’, explains: “An animal will consume about 2.5 per cent of its body weight a day in dry matter. It is accepted that dry matter intake correlates strongly with methane output – a greenhouse gas.
“Therefore, you may have two animals that are the same weight at slaughter, but if one of those gained more of its weight earlier in its life, it will have consumed more food and produced more methane during its lifetime.”
Breedr is taking the guesswork out of livestock production. Data that is routinely collected by a farmer can be captured by its app and analysed on the platform, creating a ‘digital twin’ that can be compared to retailer specifications.
By digitising livestock production, Breedr is driving innovation and integration across the industry. It is also working with industry partners to lead the development of an innovative Smart Contracts system for meat and livestock. This system uses blockchain, a form of distributed ledger technology, to capture the complicated flows of data and transactions, improving transparency and trust between multiple partners.
The precision livestock network created by Breedr aims to streamline and incentivise livestock production – increasing profitability while reducing environmental impacts and overfeeding.
Breedr’s CEO Ian Wheal will be speaking alongside: Gavin Hodgson, Sainsbury’s Head of Livestock; Willemien van Asselt of Topsector Agrifood; and Louis De Bruin, IBM’s Blockchain Thought Leader for Europe, in the session Digitisation and Data – How can we Harness the Power of Data to Deliver a More Sustainable and Transparent Supply Chain? at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in Amsterdam on 2 October at 9.30am.
Breedr is looking for farmers and processors to further develop their technology. Those that see commercial sustainability as vital to reducing environmental impact of beef production are encouraged to visit www.breedr.co and apply for a trial.