A clean slate can mean getting recording right from the beginning. Knowing in advance what you want to achieve when you are performance recording your cattle will guide the information you collect and help plan for future recording needs.
Jamie Sturrock has been General Manager of Austpec Pastoral, the agricultural arm of Brisbane-based Austpec Holdings, since its launch in 2015. Austpec Pastoral breeds full blood Wagyu and Wagyu-Angus cross cattle across 25,000 acres based at Drillham, Queensland.
Austpec Pastoral started using Stockbook in 2016, and Jamie said the clincher was the high recommendation it received during an Annual Wagyu Association Conference.
“With the breeding society registrations and performance recording we need to do, it was obvious Stockbook could streamline this communication with the Wagyu Association,” Jamie said. “It was obvious that Practical Systems was the way we should go.”
To begin with, Austpec is focusing on collecting records on each animal, using visual, management, and NLIS IDs. Jamie said using Stockbook’s Live Entry Screen in the yards has improved efficiency, as it easily connects and uploads data from their electronic reader and scales.
“We’re keeping weight records on all our grower cattle; weaning weights and progressive weights,” Jamie said. “These will be submitted to Breedplan when the time comes. With the females, we’re keeping our preg testing records and extensive notes throughout the year on breeders.”
According to Jamie, collecting these records has the potential to prevent wasting time and money on poor-performing cattle.
“For example, we run cattle on agistment blocks that are up to 160kms away,” Jamie said. “By using the weight projections before we leave, I can get a rough guide as to how they may be travelling.
“This way, we can compare weight gains to the projection; keep an eye on how the top and bottom end animals are performing, or predict what those cattle might weigh before we travel to a block and go to the effort of mustering them.
“Also, if we have a maximum weight for feeder cattle that we’re selling, we can keep an eye on those heavier cattle from home on the computer, ensure they don’t go overweight and avoid losing money on them.”
Jamie said his favourite feature of Stockbook is currently its filtering and reporting abilities, which helps him manage a variety of herds regardless of their location.
“We run some of our Wagyu and Crossbred cattle in different management groups, but they are also spread across different properties. With the filter, I can choose what I want to know and find the animals I’m looking for,” he said.
“Then I can create the reports I need with different variations: sex, breed, location, weights, cost, anything I want. The reports are pretty powerful, and when we are sending numbers through to head office the information is all there, and the reports provide you with the details they need.”
Increasingly, farm managers are reporting to owners who don’t require management level information.
“Currently, we report stock numbers to head office quarterly and annually,” Jamie said. “Eventually, I’ll need to provide regular sales updates that include values per head. They don’t need to be bombarded with details. Stockbook allows us to produce a report that is clear and summarised, and if head office needs more details, it’s there.”
It’s still early days at Austpec, and Jamie said the biggest and best efficiencies Stockbook will create are yet to come.
“I think the biggest improvements for Austpec are yet to come. Obviously, because we are breeding Wagyu, we are very concerned with marbling along with performance and carcass traits,” Jamie said. “When we build up the records of our breeding animals and collect data from feedlots and the abattoir, it will become a very important part of what we do. We will be able to collect feedback from the abattoir through our carcass records and be able to trace that right back to our animals and then that can be traced right back to the sire and dam.”
“As we’re just starting out, we’re only scratching the surface of what I believe is available in Stockbook,” Jamie said. “I’m looking forward to getting some of the Breedplan data submitted and including those registrations and recording pedigrees for the registered cattle.
“We are mothering up, doing sire verification, DNA testing, and registering cattle, in addition to collecting carcass data from abattoir and performance information from the feedlot, that information will be imported straight into Stockbook. This will allow us to build really powerful data against our animals and multiply the good and cull out the bad.”