Using a combination of accounting and individual animal software from Practical Systems, Fraser James can confidently make the right management decisions for his farming enterprise at Guy Fawkes Station, Ebor.
The Station receives an average rainfall of approximately 1200mm. Of the 955ha basalt property, approximately 450ha is sown down to high performance pastures (roughly split evenly between ryegrass, fescue and prairie grass) and the rest is cocksfoot country.
“We’ll join 450 Angus cows this year and we also buy in trading stock, mostly Angus weaners with our stocking rates ranging from about 12000 DSE at the end of winter to 18000DSE in late spring/summer. Steers either go to the feedlot at 500kg or are held until 600kg and sent to the abattoir as an MSA/Angus Pure product,” Mr James said.
“We are a Team Te Mania member, which gives us access to industry leading genetics via AI and leased bulls at a competitive cost with lots of support from Te Mania for our breeding program.”10 years ago Mr James chose Practical Systems due to the close proximity of their offices, but he’s stayed for the software.
“I’ve stayed with Practical Systems because it is good software. It does the job, is easy to use and has a great support service to back it up.”
Mr James’ management system includes Practical Systems individual animal software PS Stockbook, farm accounting system PS Cashbook Plus! as well as PS FarmMap.
“PS Stockbook allows me to accurately see how my cattle are performing on an individual or mob basis and PS Cashbook Plus allows me to track the cost/benefits of that performance,” he said. “Using an electronic record management system allows me to track animals individually with minimum effort and cost. I have lots of accurate data available which I can then analyse to help me make better management decisions.”
With this combination of Practical Systems Software, Mr James is able to ensure he has all the information he needs to make the best decisions for business. “I find PS Cashbook Plus! very easy to use; data entry is quick and simple. There are lots of reports at your fingertips, so once you’ve put the data in you can analyse it very easily and compare current trading to historical performance very quickly.”
All data from his breeding program is loaded into PS Stockbook, so Mr Fraser has extensive records on all his animals. Using a secondhand Toshiba Toughbook, Mr Fraser is able to hook up directly to the scales and panel reader, making data entry a breeze.
“Cattle are inducted into the system either at weaning or, in the case of trade stock, when they are processed after purchase.”
Management tags are placed in the cattle’s ear, and the system automatically reads the NLIS tag when they step onto the weigh box.
“I only have to press a couple of buttons to record their weight and any other relevant data such as mob, breed and sex and then they are on the system,” Mr James said.
“It is a simple process to then do progress weighing when they are next in the yards and get individual weight gain data reports. One of the great features of PS Stockbook is that if I’m weighing cattle to kill, the system will flag any animal that is weighed but still within its withholding period.”
Mr Fraser said PS Stockbook and PS Cashbook Plu! both include an extensive collection of management reports he can use.
“I use the weight gain reports the most, both for our breeding program, to ensure the heifers are on the right weight gain track for joining, and our steers, to monitor their gain at various times of the year and off various pastures,” he said.
“It is useful to be able to identify which bulls are performing weight gain-wise via their progeny and I also look at how my pastures are performing at various times of the year in terms of gain achieved in the cattle. This then helps me make decisions regarding fertiliser applications.”
Mr James said Practical Systems Software Support was “only a phone call away”.
“If you don’t get to speak to one of the technical people immediately they will always call you back very promptly. As a bonus they are really nice people to talk to and always keen to be helpful,” he said.
“The software is updated regularly, keeping them fresh and relevant, and you pay a fair price for a great service.”