Invest time where it pays – electronic data collection and marketing
Sheep Farmer of the Year finalist Ed runs an 800-acre farm and makes full use of on-farm software to collect data for his flock.
Through the use of integrated farm software provided by Border Software he can quickly collect information at lambing time based on the EID of the ewe and her lambs, record fostering accurately and download data to Signet that would take hours to complete manually.
Lamb weights can be with Signet within the hour and analysis tools within the computer software enable him to track flock performance independently. The figures show that eight-week weights recorded between 1999-2001 averaged 16kg; between 2013-2015 they had jumped to nearly 20kg.
Ed regards time spent on marketing as time well spent. However, this does not mean spending days at shows and sales, as most of his sheep are sold off the farm. He feels this creates a better breeder/client relationship, as the buyer can see the flock, understand his business ethos and purchase fit-for-purpose sheep in their working clothes. He feels the less pressurised environment is conducive to both buyer and seller.
The challenge in selling from home is the need for regular communication with potential customers. Ed achieves this through press articles, strategically placed advertisements and an active involvement in social media – drip feeding the messages about his breeding stock to like-minded commercial producers.
Tips for success
- Invest in technology that makes data collection easier and more accurate
- Be clear how breeding stock will be marketed
- Develop a communications strategy to keep in touch with regular and potential new clients