Monitor farmers, the Smith family, based at Auchernack, by Grantown-on-Spey, have recently integrated EID tags throughout their whole farming enterprise to help improve their daily live weight gain.

The 800-acre unit has been farmed by the Smith family since 1946 with father-and-son team, Malcolm and Calum and his wife, Sammie, producing store cattle from a herd of 140 suckler cows, which predominantly go to a Limousin bull. The winter housed herd has a split calving with one-third in the autumn and two-thirds in spring.

The business is hoping to reduce costs for the suckler enterprise as well as improve efficiency through monitoring weights and breeding performance in the cattle, in which they integrated EID tags throughout their whole farming enterprise.

The Scottish Farmer: Suckler herd with EID and visual flag tagsSuckler herd with EID and visual flag tags

The family aim to sell store cattle at about 12 to 13 months old, with a target weight of just over 400kg, with some heifers being retained within the herd.

“Recording calf weights means that you can select the best performing heifers to retain and can build up a picture of which are your best performing cows and keep replacement heifers from those cows.

“Weight reports are also very useful, to see which animals and groups are performing well,” he added.

Using Shearwell farmworks classic software and EID tags (HDX) since 2021 with the Shearwell X6 stock recorder, which they use for all routine tasks – births, movements on and off the farm, deaths, pregnancy diagnosis, weighing and management comments.

“I love the accuracy and the ease, we don’t need to worry about the paperwork with soggy paper, pens running out or loosing notes. The automatic transfer of weights from the weigh head to the X6 is brilliant and so quick,” said Malcolm.

The Scottish Farmer: Weights are automatically shown on the X6 Weights are automatically shown on the X6

One of the biggest improvements to their operation in helping them reach their store cattle weight target has been the introduction of a digital weigh head.

Weight data is automatically transferred to the X6 in a matter of seconds. From here they can then view live weight gain and pick out those animals who are under performing and take actions before problems occur.

“The FarmWorks classic software with the X6 stock recorder has been very useful when making management decisions about animals, as you can look back at the history of an animal and see all the comments, and then quickly find and see the history of their dam, and any comments on them. You have all that data instantly at your fingertips.

“It makes sharing information very easy to export data to other agencies and stakeholders, such as RPID, QMS, ScotEID, which makes inspections less daunting – plus you know your records are accurate!

“After doing all the work outside on the X6, you upload it to the PC and can then run various reports and use them to manage groups – such as PD reports to split cows into sire groups for calving.

“The back-up and support from Shearwell is excellent – the area rep has helped with setting everything up and sorted out any issues that we did have. They are always available to answer questions, even out of hours!

“From being a monitor farm there is a real value in meeting other farmers and agricultural experts, discussing problems and solutions. It’s not just good for business but for our mental health too.

I’ve done benchmarking before and we seem to be doing ok, but we can always do better,” concluded Malcolm.