Embracing new technology and ensuring farmers make the most of all farm data to raise levels of efficiency and profitability will be key for all agricultural businesses in next three to five years.

That is the view of Rob Massey, managing director of Tru-Test, a solutions-based business, specialising in weighing, EID and fencing for all farming situations, who encouraged producers to record on a regular basis.

“It’s a fact that only 10% of UK livestock farmers weigh anything – yet, if you were harvesting grain, you'd never sell it off the farm without knowing what it weighed,” he says.

“The only gauge is the market or abattoir, but by then it’s too late – you’ve missed any opportunity to get it right.

“When you have a worm burden, lameness, mastitis or any disease issue you’ll see a dip in growth rates. But, if you aren’t monitoring them, and you’re just guessing weights, there’s room for a huge margin of error.”

Furthermore, he said the days of writing data in the dust of a tractor, or on the back of a fag packet, should be long gone. Data is king and it should drive every aspect of a farm business as the tools are there to become more efficient.

He also said he has seen examples of farmers asked to ‘guess’ the weight of a live animal at a demonstration, and that dairy and beef cattle can be up to 200kg out.

“No other business would not measure output. Dairy farmers know what milk they are sending off farm, but liveweight gain is another matter altogether.

“I don’t understand this reluctance to embrace technology. We’re not mathematicians so we have calculators – and in this case, there shouldn’t be a farm without an ability to weigh the stock.”

There is also a massive issue when it comes to using drugs as correct dosages are often based on weight.

He said: “You don’t have to buy top end products – anything is better than nothing. A measuring stick or a weigh tape are not exact science, but better to use either of these than your eye, and you'll get back any money invested in weighing equipment inside a year. You’ll also save money on inputs such as wormers and vaccinations, and will get heifers back on track bulling and calving at the right weights.

“The average calving age is 28 months at best, with a calving index average over 400 when it should be 365. These ‘losses’ represent huge costs to a dairy farm, and using the right technology can so easily improve margins.”

Mr Massey also pointed out there has to be a ‘mindset change’ with producers embracing new technology, regardless of their farming system. “They should be asking ‘what does it save’ not ‘what does it cost’,” he said.

Looking ahead, he says the majority of farmers are waiting for EID to become compulsory, rather than considering the savings it can offer.

“It can offer huge cost savings,” he says. “Just one kg of liveweight gain over an animal’s lifetime will increase returns by £1.50 to £2 a beast. It’s a ridiculously small amount of cost when you consider what it will give you back.

“This isn’t about saying that farmers aren’t good at judging the weight of their animals, it’s about making their life easier, and ensuring they use the latest technology to best effect. Make life easier by investing in the future, so you make the right, and accurate, business decisions.”