In the lead up to the introduction of electronic identification for the sheep industry in Victoria, one local producer is inviting others to learn how an electronic system can improve the management of their farming enterprise.
Robert Ipsen of Ipsen Pastoral Company has been using sheep EID and livestock management software for over five years and will be hosting an EID field day on October 30, 2013 with farm software company Practical Systems.
The inaccuracy of manual tag reading and an opportunity for a government equipment grant first prompted Ipsen Pastoral Company to go electronic.
“When you physically read the numbers in the yards you think you’re 100% right but when you come inside there is always one number written down that just doesn’t exist,” Mr Ipsen said.
“Whereas with electronic ear tags and a tag reader what you scan is what is actually there.
“Once you’ve got the tags in and you’ve got a reader, you’ll never want to go back to doing things manually. You’ll wish you’d done it years ago.”
For Mr Ipsen, traceability is the most important feature of electronic tags.
“Traceability provides your markets with the ability to trace any problems. The management of the whole sheep enterprise is so much easier and better.”
Mr Ipsen inherited an animal pedigree system when he purchased his merino stud, but found the system wasn’t as good as he wanted. After researching better systems he eventually picked Practical Systems individual livestock management software, PS Stockbook.
“With Stockbook I can track the pedigrees of each sheep and it does it pretty easily. The ease of bringing in outside data through a csv file is great.
“There are so many processes that are easy to duplicate without having to go through sheep by sheep to update. There’s just easy ways to do things.” But for Mr Ipsen, it was more than just the software itself that recommended Practical Systems.
“The support that you get is just exceptional,” he said.
“You’ve got that relationship where you are comfortable to ask the silly questions and that’s important because Practical Systems support can find the right answer for you. “You’ve got a program you can work with. If I can’t find something I want to do, I just ring and they say “That’s easy Rob” and show me how it’s done.”
Ipsen Pastoral Company is putting in the effort to collect data in the yards, the shearing shed and while pregnancy testing to start to build a clear picture of his flock’s potential.
“It takes years, but we’re building a database so we can start seeing some trends, but it won’t happen overnight. You can take all the data you like but unless you can act on it isn’t much use to you.
“With Stockbook you are able to make management decisions with authority both in the yards and back in the office. You’ve got the records available to see the productivity of a ewe, whether she’s bearing twins, whether she’s always got singles or if she’s not pregnant, and make decisions as needed.”
This year the data was put to good use in the Ipsen Pastoral Company’s Ram Sale Catalogue.
“We’ve managed to use the data we’ve collected and build the catalogue around it. We’ve also made sale cards that we put on the pens with the details of the ram on it. It is those little things that become so easy because the program does them for you. “