THE increasing complexity of information available in the search for sires is often a topic of concern among bull buyers.
Although producers value the data that is on offer, there is little doubt that many people find the process of searching through numbers overwhelming.
On average, a typical commercial beef producer receives eight sale catalogues annually. The cumulative amount of data for them to consider is considerable.
Of growing concern for many in the industry is that while highly regarded and expected, the amount and complexity of data now offered is becoming confusing for many producers. More concerning is the risk this confusion will discourage producers from considering the data that is available and using it to inform their selection decisions.
This concern has led the NSW Department of Primary Industries to develop a simple platform to collate and share data in a more visual and comprehendible manner.
In presenting the DeSireBull platform to the Beef Genetics Champion Network meeting in Armidale recently, Dr Matias Suarez outlined several key issues underlying this concern.
The first was that producers are purchasing bulls on sale day with weight being the key driver of price, rather than genetic merit.
“In fact genetic merit is unrelated to price,” he told the audience.
While this is a primary concern, the overwhelming amount of data available and the confusion that was felt by many producers is also a strong factor in the platform’s development. Industry surveys into the use of both Breedplan and Lambplan revealed producers’ key requests were:
- To make the user-interface of Breedplan more user friendly, easier to follow and professional
- To develop a process to make searching and using the data more effective and faster
Additional requests included finding a way to “demystify the data that is being used”, and a key point highlighted by Dr Saurez was to explain the security that EBVs offered in decision making did not undermine the confidence producers had in their breeders.
The DeSireBull platform has been created to collate and present complex amounts of data with the producer as the key user. Key features of the platform include a simplified search option that includes the option for a producer to search by breed, breeder, sale type and location as well searching against index or other specific requirements.
The data that is provided in the platform is updated to reflect the recent Breedplan data as well as comments and pictures that may be uploaded by the breeder – similar to the comments in a hard copy catalogue (see below).
Part of the search function allows bulls to be ranked according to their Breed Index value. However producers will have the opportunity to create their own specific Index if the prefer more targeted search options.
Each bull identified in the search will receive a summery rating based on stars. This allows producers to see the major strengths and weaknesses of a bull based on its performance data.
At this stage DeSireBull is a pilot program, with the NSW DPI seeking user input and feedback. Producers are being encouraged by Dr Saurez to use the prototype and submit their feedback. The prototype platform can be accessed here https://mvp.desirebull.com.au/bulls
Alastair Rayner is the Principal of RaynerAg, an agricultural advisory service based in NSW. He regularly attends bull sales to support client purchases and undertakes pre sale selections and classifications. He can be contacted here or through his website www.raynerag.com.au