Wireless weighing makes life easier across multiple properties
Friday, 29 April, 2022
With more than 1,000 head of cattle spread across three properties, Cambridge sheep and beef farmer Hamish Macdonald needed a hassle-free solution to weighing his animals. His home block of 300 hectares is complimented by two smaller lease blocks. Each year, he runs 1,200 sheep, 240 R1 dairy heifers, 210 R2 dairy heifers and he rears around 800 calves. For Hamish, weighing is crucial for keeping an eye on his return on investment. “If you’re not consistently weighing your animals then you have nothing to efficiently manage how the cattle are performing,” says Hamish.
Previously Hamish used weigh scales with cables to weigh a sample of animals in each mob, which he used to benchmark the entire herd. He switched to Gallagher’s new Wireless Loadbars at the end of 2021 when the cables on his non-Gallagher scales failed for the second time. “The Wireless Loadbars mean there are no cables for the animals to stand on and damage. When you’re transporting the loadbars between multiple properties for weighing sessions you can easily pick them up and move them to the next site. Replacing cables costs almost as much as the load cells so they essentially pay for themselves. We don’t work in a clean environment, so when you’re pulling cables in and out and moving the scales around properties the wireless option is the best way to go,” says Hamish.
The Wireless Loadbars’ ease of transportability means he is now weighing his entire mobs rather than picking a sample of animals. He now has data on every animal linked to their EID tag so he can see how they are performing over time. Regular weighing helps Hamish determine his calves’ feeding regime, if factors like weather are having an impact, or if there is there are any animal health issues. “Knowing the weights of our animals also means we can feed them adequately without wasting feed. If you don’t weigh, you might feed calves for longer than you need to. In Winter when grass is at a premium you don’t want to be feeding cattle past their target weights,” says Hamish.
He starts weighing his calves when they get close to the recommended 70kg weaning weight, and then continues to weigh every three to four weeks taking them through to 100kgs and drafting them into mobs. He gradually sells the calves to buyers over the year; as weaners, at eight-months-old and some as yearlings or even 18-month-olds. Hamish carries the remainder of his stock over until his heifers reach around 420kg live weight and steers 450kg. They are then sent to the works.
“Consistently weighing means I can just chip away at rearing the mobs over the year. As soon as they reach their target weights, I call the agents and send them off,” says Hamish. “I would recommend Gallagher’s Wireless Loadbars to any farmer who is ready to upgrade their weighing system, or to farmers running bigger operations across multiple properties. It’s definitely worth it.”