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Tasmanian beef-producer info days highlight data analysis as crucial

The growing importance of technology and data analysis in making on-farm decisions was just one aspect covered at a series of beef-producer information days held across Tasmania in late February.

Meat processor Greenham Tasmania Pty Ltd holds the events annually to connect with its beef producers, which includes breeders and fatteners.

Greenham's Trevor Fleming says, "The aim is to update producers on current market conditions both in livestock and processing, and introduce to them to, or update those already a part of, our 'natural beef' programs. We also bring in external companies to talk about new technologies or research that might help them in their operations. Ultimately, the purpose is to cultivate new supplier relationships and maintain existing ones — Greenham prides itself on these relationships because without them, we don't have a business."

More than 300 hundred producers attended events across the state from Brighton in the south, north to Smithton, LaTrobe and Scottsdale, as well as Flinders Island and King Island.

"We can see prices remaining good for at least six to 12 months and the main point this year is that while beef prices are high, it's a good time for farmers to be investing in their operations."

Trevor says conversely, processing is "very tough" but Greenham will continue pushing for premium prices for Tasmanian beef.

Data crucial
"Another important point we covered this year is that we see technology, data capture and data analysis becoming more crucial in making on-farm decisions. We're slowly introducing it to our farmers who supply us, where the average age is probably mid-50s."

Justin Cooper, Gallagher's Territory Manager for Tasmania was one of the presenters at the days, which included Greenham MD Peter Greenham; Richie Butler from digital farm-management tool company AgLive; Jarod Lees and Ben Thomas from Meat & Livestock Australia; Alex Macdonald of Southern Beef Technology Services; Thomas Snare of Techno Grazing; and Jason Lynch and Basil Doonan alternating from Macquarie Franklin.

Trevor says, "As part of the evolution of technology use, Gallagher represents an important part of the process in terms of weighing and data capture. Anything that can reduce paperwork and admin for farmers means they are thinking about how to produce more beef and improving efficiency."

Peter Greenham says, "At the plant, we already use data capture and analysis for processing the meat, but with more on-farm technology available, producers can also improve their operations, which will lead to continued quality and growth for everyone in the supply chain."

Justin says producers were keen to hear about weighing equipment and Gallagher's Animal Performance Software (APS).

"It was good to be able to explain why weighing their cattle is important for beef producers, and — even more importantly — how they can use that information to make business decisions. For instance, being able to identify which cattle will fit the weight grid, when, removes any guesswork so saves time and money in the right animals being sent at the right time. Having the tools to make these sorts of objective decisions streamlines producers' operations."

Trevor Fleming says the days were very well received.

"Our feedback survey showed that 63% rated the sessions 'excellent' and the balance of 37% as 'good'; while 90% of attendees said they would be 'very likely' to attend again."

Greenham Tasmania is part of HW Greenham & Sons Pty Ltd, a family-owned business with six generations of involvement in the Australian meat industry, stretching back to the mid 1860s.