A decade ago, Ian Norbury came back to the family farm full time with his dad part time. They had milked cows but then got into sucklers. The ethos needed to change in order to make money and Ian decided to go pedigree. Mobberley Angus and the beef he produces is making great strides. Ian has increased the numbers of cattle from 60 cows six years ago and is aiming for 150 suckler cows +followers to total 300 to make full use of the available land. Stock is born on farm and stays until slaughter or sold as breeding stock.

The Mobberley Angus brand is now achieving a good price and reputation for quality beef. Ian has recently started selling to a local butcher in Manchester who sells to local pub trade and chains and likes to know the provenance of the meat, the butcher is active on social media, which is good for everyone.

“EID should be used for traceability of meat, breed and days hanging, this is what the restaurant trade want and what the consumer should be asking and having an answer to”.

Ian is an AHDB Strategic Farm and was lucky enough to be loaned a Tru-Test XR5000 weigh head and a Tru-Test XRS2 EID stick reader to use on farm as Datamars are AHDB strategic partners. Ian said he did not think he could justify the Tru-Test equipment but now he doesn’t want to give it back! Within 24 hours of it arriving he had ordered readable EID tags which made the job superfast and so quick getting cattle through the race.

“Having a stick reader takes away human error of reading or writing a tag number down wrong, or having paper blow away or get wet, especially on a TB testing day, when stress his high and numbers are on various pages” Ian adds.

Initially, Ian used a Tru-Test EziWeigh7i and explains; “this is very good as it works out kg/day gained for each animal and he manually wrote in the last 3 digits off the eartag, it would record the Daily Weight Gain from the last time weighed. Ian quickly realised by also using The Datamars Livestock free software (formerly known as MiHub), “it is useful for DLWG and tracks weight gain and is a great free tool as you can set the end weight and month you want the cattle finished by. The software creates a graph to show if you are on track to get to this goal. So, if you are aiming for a 650kg cows, it plots on the graph where you need to get to, this can help with grazing or feeding decisions”.

“The XR5000 is a game changer! It collects and delivers as much or as little information as you want it to. It could be confusing. Choose what information you want to see and want recording, while the rest sits in the background. I like to see DLWG, Average LW gain, Sire / Dam, UK Tag number and health status”.

Using Datamars Livestock, Ian knows he only needs 0.8kg of DLWG not 1kg DLWG last winter on his store cattle in order to meet his month and weight goal, which is to kill between 16 -22 months, this saves on concentrate usage and saves money. He can use this information when talking with the feed supplier, for them to provide the correct feed and ratio to be used for the cattle. By weighing every three weeks, a clear indication can be seen from the graphs created to see if the feed is delivering what it said it would.

Ian weighs every animal off the farm when selling to abattoir or for breeding, he then stays to see them graded so he can get a good idea of confirmation and carcass quality and ensure that the sire and confirmation are working for him.

By staying with the bulls at kill and seeing them graded he can see how his weights are comparing to the end kill weight, plus he can see more from his Sire & Dam when a carcass is hanging up.

“Datamars Livestock puts cattle in weight order, this means it is easy to see which need pulling out as they are nearly ready and finish for the butcher”.

Ian now also uses the XRS2 Stick reader for keeping his medicine book up to date as it reads the EID Tags and then uploads the data onto the computer using FarmPlan software. He also captures much more valuable data with the XR5000 too.

Ian collects the following information every time the cattle go through the crush or are Stick Read. Tag No, EID No, Weight. Av Weight. Breed, DOB, Dam, Sire, Sex, Age in months Date 7& Time weighed. When he weighs a group, he can get the Average group weight, the Max and Min weight and a Total group weight.

“The Tru-Test XRS2 EID Stick reader is fantastic on a TB testing day – just use the stick separate (not just when weighing), it gets all the data. When treating flies, person on the stick, waits for the beep – all the information is recorded! This then gets downloaded into FarmPlan, with the Number in the group, age of the animal, put the treatment in the column, the amount of treatment (10ml) and highlights movement restrictions, which is fact, not guess work! All this is recorded in the Medicine Book section of the Farm Plan software, no need for bit of paper, error in writing down tag numbers or forgetting movement restrictions. Plus it is easy and quick and anyone can beep it over the ear!

Tru-Test has really helped make benchmarking so easy, just pull the data off into a spreadsheet, which shows the comparisons between 2 groups, which means you can move animals around so they are in the best group for them. The data shows you Actual weights, there is no guess work. There is confidence in the true figures #measuretomanage”.

“So much information CAN be used and can be daunting BUT you choose what you want to look at, all the information is there if you want it #measuretomanage”.

“Proper facts and figures, which means you know where your business is really at. It means you know what is working and what isn’t. Key decisions can be made when you have the proper facts. Tru-Test helps you gather, then Datamars Livestock interprets them for you #measuretomanage”.