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John and Peter Douglas Clifford have farmed Stonyhurst in coastal North Canterbury for 35 years.

The station’s 10,000 breeding ewes, 600 cows and 440 breeding deer hinds are all RFID tagged and it was one of the earliest adopters of Tru-Test’s XR3000 weigh scale.

In other words, Stonyhurst had a strong existing platform for selecting key traits, particularly in wool, lamb and beef production. Their goal, though, is to make even more of the information they have.

And the way to do it?

By linking the FarmHQ Data Service with their existing Tru-Test animal monitoring system.

Wool is at the heart of Stonyhurst’s work with FarmHQ. The station’s half-breds have typically ranged from 18 to 29 microns – the ‘sweet spot’ for Stonyhurst is 23 to 25 microns for a contract with Smart Wool.

“I believe it (wool) is where we can get the most additional money out of a sheep – after all there‘s only so much you can get out of a leg of lamb,” John says.

“We are drafting all our sheep into micron groups for shearing and mating and monitoring how micron diameters are changing as the sheep age.”

The results are speaking for themselves. The amount of wool meeting the requirements of the Smart Wool contract is increasing by around 5% annually and the average micron diameter of the station’s rising two-tooths had gone down by 2 microns in the past 12 months alone.

“That’s equivalent to a 35% increase in value which, in theory, should pay for the whole system by itself in one year.”

It doesn’t stop there

John is using the FarmHQ Data Service to manage the feed allocation for the station’s Angus and Hereford bulls. These are run in a number of different lanes and shifted every second day.

FarmHQ is used to sort the bulls into lanes to ensure the same weight distribution in each. It’s also being used to track each bull’s progeny to ensure the earliest maturing cattle possible and for deciding from the best source of bulls and conformity in future.

“The FarmHQ support team has been invaluable to us for storing data and giving accurate up-to-date reports. Using the data services has enabled us to get a lot more from our Tru-Test XR3000s.”

As a pioneer in EID and tagging, John says being able to record and make decisions based on good quality data has always made sense to him.

“I never say it as a cost - I've always seen it as a way forward.”

He’s also keen to expand his use of FarmHQ, including mapping. With 400 paddocks on the station’s 3,000 hectares he thinks the increased knowledge of the inputs – from fertilizer to frequency of grazing – could be as valuable to the farm as the information he now has on its outputs – wool, lamb, beef and venison.

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