Gethin Evans, Llanilar
- 101 ha beef and sheep farm
- Commercial 550 ewe flock, predominately Lleyn mules and Aberfields
- All lambs finished and sold direct to abattoir
Three generations work on the farm at Rhosgoch, with the youngest, Gethin looking after the administrative side of things, including sheep movements. The Evans’ do not see the collection of individual data as an immediate priority for the business in terms of flock management. Only movements, deaths and transfers into the flock are recorded.
Before taking part in the HCC EID recording project all the sheep identity data was collected by hand using paper and pen, which was very time-consuming for the labour available on the farm. With Gethin taking on an increasing flock management role, alongside a full time job off farm, effective time management is critical in the business.
"We are used to the Cattle Tracing Scheme, and find the online electronic records of cattle movements a useful management tool. We therefore welcomed the opportunity to take a similar approach to keeping basic flock data electronically’, reflects Gethin, ‘I am keen that we can use electronic recording to benefit the business."
An entry level stick reader with a user friendly software package was the obvious investment choice for the business. Gethin says, "Our choice was also strongly influenced by quality of the back up support. I’d have to say that the software is not entirely intuitive, but that initial hurdle was overcome with excellent over-the-phone support. The remote log-in facility, where the IT support accesses your system in real-time, while you are there in front of the screen, is a fantastic way for the user to learn and resolve and issues straight away."
Gethin was pleasantly surprised at how fast and specific the stick reader is at recording individual IDs, and has found the reader to incredibly robust; able to withstand the rough and tumble of sheep handling. He is now likely to use the reader to record barren ewes and lameness trends, helping improve the overall productivity of the flock. Before the project, collecting and analysing this type of detail had always been a lower priority for the business due to time pressures.
"Recording electronically has released sufficient time in the business so that interrogating barren and lameness figures can now become a reality", comments Gethin.
In the medium to long-term, Gethin would like the business to invest in a set of EID auto drafting scales, but the cost of these is still prohibitive. Thinking of what would benefit others embarking on using EID to record the flock, Gethin suggests that, "a day of training with the software supplier would be helpful, ironing out common queries and getting people started with some practical support."
"Overall the technology has very much lived up to my expectations. It is one way of future-proofing the business, helping me and my father both increase farm efficiency and meet the emerging traceability demands on the sheep enterprise."