Production

Trial explores untapped on-farm potential of NLIS data

Beef Central, 16/01/2012

A new video developed by Meat and Livestock Australia looks at ways in which cattle producers are using data collected for the National Livestock Identification System to streamline herd information collection and  management decisions on-farm.

FutureBeef Extension Officer with Queensland’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Tim Emery, has been working intensely with a number of local producers over the past three years to explore the untapped potential of NLIS through a Producer Demonstration Site.

“We looked to try and get the management benefits of this NLIS technology that we’re using – what are the management and financial benefits that can better our beef businesses,” Mr Emery said.

“NLIS enables you to get that accurate objective data that can help reduce time and labour in the yards.

“You can measure the productive performance of paddocks through live weight gain so if they aren’t performing in this paddock then you can move them on or they can be supplemented.

“It can also help you identify animals that are meeting market specifications and those that aren’t performing. The list goes on.”

Participants visited properties already incorporating NLIS into their data collection, including Reg and Jackie Carlyle’s 4900 hectare breeding and fattening operation “Wonga Hills” near Chinchilla in Queensland.

“Some of the things we find very useful with using NLIS tags and with the herd recording program, is initially with our calves and our cows, and matching up our breeders and looking at their genetics and herd selectivity.  It’s also then when we buy in steers, all their information goes onto the computer as well and we’re able to make good assessments about those animals as well,” Jackie said.

Reg and Jackie emphasise it’s not what you use to collect the data, it’s what you do with that data that counts, but a system that saves time and labour while reducing the potential for error has many benefits.

“The improvements from the herd recording have been identifying the poorer performing breeders in the herd and over a number of years we’ve eliminated or culled a lot of those cows and when we do our weaning now we only wean once.  There’s no sort of tail to be herd,” Reg said.

Mr Emery said the technology allowed for plenty of flexibility, with the amount of information recorded completely up to each producer.

“You can record all your health records. You can put whether or not you’ve implanted them with a HGP, you can say if you’ve vaccinate them, and this helps for auditing purposes,” he said.

“Then also some of the linking back to carcase feedback and so through that you can identify, why didn’t these particular animals meet the grade?  Was it a bull influence?  Was it an age? Why they fell outside the specs.”

The feedback has also identified areas where improvement is still needed, particularly in the area of tag retention, and the complications that can arise when producers have to replace lost tags on the electronic database.

Press play on the video at the top of the screen to learn more about the PDS work. MLA feedback TV has also released more videos on subjects including the National Livestock Reporting Service, the Together with Japan initiative, and social media on its You Tube channel, available by clicking here.

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