Thursday, 16 September 2021 06:55

Animal traceability key for breeders

Written by  Staff Reporters
Hamish and Mary McRae list animal traceability as top priority. Hamish and Mary McRae list animal traceability as top priority.

Bull breeders Hamish and Mary McRae list animal traceability as a top priority.

When buying bulls, they use the same stock agents and choose animals that have sound traceability.

"One of the stock agents we've dealt with for 18 years," says Hamish.

"As a supplier of sire bulls, you're always wary of animals that may have had multiple movements. The only beef animals we introduce to our breeding unit are sire bulls."

The McRaes farm beef and sheep over 5,200ha at Lochiel Station near Hanmer Springs and operate a 520ha beef finishing farm nearby.

As service bull providers, they're gearing up for a busy season and that involves ensuring all bulls are traceable before they go off-farm.

Their beef breeding operation has 870 Angus and Hereford breeding cows, with about 2,300 beef anmals in total. They employ four staff.

Hamish says there are two farms: the main farm and the finishing block 20 minutes away, both under one NAIT number.

Buying in service bulls depends on the season, the price and available feed.

"Typically, we'll buy them at 100 kilos and up to 400 kilos so there isn't a set pattern," says Hamish.

For their dairy customers, animal registrations are at an all-time high and it's a no-brainer if you want to protect your herd and business."

The McRaes supply multiple dairy farms each season.

One of their buyers purchases 50 Hereford bulls for servicing to other clients. This season, Hamish expects to offload about 150 bulls.

NAIT obligations for the farm is looked after by their stock manager as he oversees the beef finishing farm where the greatest NAIT movement activity is.

"I receive updates on confirmed animal movements by email. All the animal are scanned on and off-farm," says Hamish.

To register animals in NAIT, the farm uses a Tru-Test scanner along with the Datamars Cloud Farmer App.

"All staff have access it is ideal for bluetooth compatability and the app is a great back up for maintaining your animal health records and sales.

"You don't need to go back to the office and plug into the desktop. You can do all transactions at the cattle yard."

The retention is reasonably good.

Hamish says they often find missing tags when animals are brought in for TB testing.

"In that case, we'll ensure the animal has a replacement tag and that tag is registered in NAIT. The reality is animals will always lose tags, though it's not a big problem for us.

"The farm has never sent 'unsafe to tag bull' to the meat processor. We have ample tagging facilities on-farm for tagging our bulls."

His advice to farmers on NAIT is to keep your accounts up to date.

"Whether moving animals or registering them, just do it at the time, and that way you won't forget. Also, it's important to have a good relationship with your stock agent."

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