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Diverse, novel ideas presented in Beef 2018’s Pitch in the Paddock

by Fiona Myers, 16 May 2018

A PROBIOTIC additive which could cut the use of antibiotics in the feedlot industry won the Pitch in the Paddock at Beef 2018 last week.

ProAgni was judged the best of eight ideas, which included pitches from across Australia as well as the United States.

It was an eclectic group of winners and placegetters, with second prize going to a meat quality probe and third to a water monitoring system. The popular vote from the audience went to an app for the efficient transport of farm packages.

The inaugural Pitch in the Paddock was designed to “support, enhance and add value to start up and scale up companies within the beef sector”.

The winner, ProAgni, has two products:  one of which is in the development phase and the other which is already on the market.

ProTect AIF supplements are designed to allow a quicker adoption of the rumen to grain feeding and are antibiotic and ionophore free. The company said they retail at a significant discount to comparative supplements.

The additive for use in rations is a dry form probiotic, has a shelf life of 12 months and does not require cold chain storage.

The feed additive is already being used in lamb feedlots in NSW with 100,000 lambs currently having it included in their ration. Three private feedlots have also signed on as collaborators according to the company.

Its second product, an induction aid, is claimed to cut feedlot induction times dramatically.

In its pitch, ProAgni’s chief technical officer Robert Bell said the company’s product in development, the induction probiotic, would cut induction times down from 15-17 days to just three or four days. This product has been tested on a small scale and is being tested more broadly in trials this year.

“The real driver is to reduce the use of antibiotics in the food chain,” Mr Bell said.

He said the additives and supplements could deliver:

  • feed additives which were easy to use in a dry form probiotic
  • premium marketability with antibiotic free grain feeding
  • reduced costs of production with a 75 percent reduction in transition times to grain, based on previous scientific research.

He said the win in last week’s competition was “validation that we are on the right track”.

The products have been three years in development and the feed additive is currently available through agricultural retailers across NSW, Victoria and South Australia. The company is about to broaden its distribution network to Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

MEQ Probe

A meat probe which can deliver real time information on pH, shear force and intramuscular force took out second prize in the Pitch in the Paddock competition.

The MEQ probe developed by Jordy Kitschke and Nick Van Den Berg is designed to provide objective measurements of eating quality to beef producers, retailers and processors.

The technology used in the probe came from the medical industry and has been utilised to determine meat eating quality. It measures pH, intramuscular fat and sheer force.

“A person’s sensory experience is correlated with IMF and shear force,” Mr Kitschke said.

“We have done pilot trials and had conversations with leading meat scientists like Peter McGilchrist who have given feedback.”

Mr Kitschke said it was not designed to be a grading tool but an assessment tool for processors to be able to determine the right markets for the right carcases.

Feedback will also be able to be given to producers on the eating quality of the carcases they send to processors, with links provided by the NLIS tags.

The units will be able to take measurements on hot carcases with no damage to the bodies from the 2cm probes.

Mr Kitschke said the MEQ probe would provide data straight to the abattoir’s computer system to allow decisions to be made on which way carcases would be marketed, based on the eating quality assessment results. He hopes to have a unit in a commercial processing plant by the end of the year.

Water Save

Third place went to WaterSave, an autonomous watering system which will not only check water levels in troughs and tanks, but will also turn bores on and off in response to those levels.

Darryl Lyons from WaterSave said a trough level sensor would cost about $200 with an annual fee of $40. The water sensing technology for stock water was drawn largely from the company’s work in the irrigation industry.

Fluxx

The public’s vote for best pitch went to Fluxx, an app which will match a freight delivery request with someone travelling to a farmer’s location, lowering the carbon footprint and saving time and money.

It is promoted as a “two-sided, peer-to-peer general freight platform.”

The app, which will be free, will allow a person to put a freight job up, and an offer of what they are prepared to pay to have that freight delivered.

A person registered with the app can then earn money by delivering that freight. Freight sizes are categorised so that potential carriers know whether their vehicle has the capacity to carry the item.

The app pairs the freight request with a pick-up person.

All quotes Direct

Queensland cattle producer Heidi Smith developed a website where fellow producers can ask for quotes on different products online in the one platform.

Ms Smith said the website saved time as quote requests could be made at any time of the day or night and was particularly valuable for those who did not have access to mobile phone service.

The website was launched in April 2017 and already has 60 suppliers who provide quotes. There have been 1500 users of the app in the past three months.

Farmgate MSU

The goal of Farmgate MSU is to set up Australia’s first vertically integrated mobile meat processing facility.

The units are able to process 40 cattle and 70 lambs a week with the goal of supplying the company’s meat brand Provinor which the company said would “guarantee full provenance and traceability”.

Click here to access an earlier Beef Central story on Farmgate MSU.

Livestock labs

Fine tuning animal health management with the use of technology was the pitch by Livestock Lab’s Jon Woods.

The company is developing an electronic device, “Embedivet” to collect biometric data on each animal. That information is analysed by the company’s analytics and can alert producers to which animal is sick, based on that analysis by a message to their phone. It is estimated the device will cost $30-$60 with data collected as the animals near the scanner which is placed near a watering point or a salt block.

Vence

Virtual fencing with the use of an ear tag was the story behind Vence, a US-New Zealand collaboration headed up by Frank Wooten. He said virtual fencing would make it easier to run rotational grazing programs as well as break up large paddocks on stations without the need for physical fencing. Animals could also be moved using virtual fencing.

 

The judges of the Pitch in the Paddock were Ben Van Delden, head of Ag Tech and head of markets for KPMG; Glen Richards, veterinary physician, entrepreneur and a “shark” on the TV program Shark Tank; Markus Kahlbetzer, founder and chief executive officer BridgeLane Group; Sarah Nolet, founder and chief executive officer of AgThentic and Susan McDonald, managing director of Super Butcher.

 

 



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