It has been said that data is the new oil. That’s certainly true of the agricultural environment where farmers are increasingly using the power of data and data analytics to make better decisions and improve their operations.
Accurate and accessible records have long been a key element of successful farm management. For livestock farmers, however, creating these records has traditionally been a laborious and time-consuming task, often accomplished with old fashioned pen and notebook in a kraal environment with the data then needing to be painstakingly uploaded.
The introduction of electronic weighing and data collection systems has gone a long way to saving time, creating efficiencies and ensuring more reliable data. However, these primarily imported solutions are often pricey, costing anything between R30 000 and R80 000.
In response Tal-Tec, the local providers of quality livestock equipment, now offer an innovative eWeigh system, a South African manufactured device which combines affordability with functionality. The digitally based eWeigh is Bluetooth enabled and includes no physical display on the scale. Instead, by waving a stick reader over each animal’s electronic tag, eWeigh uploads its weight onto the iLivestock application on a smartphone. The device indicates when a weight has been successfully recorded by displaying green lights.
iLivestock is an app specifically designed for the livestock industry to record and edit animal information in the field. Using a smart device, iLivestock allows farmers to capture animal information, either by manually inputting the data or via an external source such as an EID (electronic identification) stick reader. iLivestock is fully integrated with eWeigh device, allowing farmers to quickly record weight data against other data saved on the app. One of the big benefits of eWeigh is that wifi is not a requirement to effectively capture data. Instead, using Bluetooth on the smartphone, eWeigh uploads animal data to iLivestock which is then uploaded to the cloud once in range of wifi.
“I’ve been using iLIvestock and eWeigh for the past three years and I can’t recommend it enough,” enthuses Benchmark Boerdery’s Hennie van Niekerk, a Boerbok stud farmer based in Polokwane, Limpopo.
“I weigh my livestock on a weekly basis and the combination of eWeigh and iLivestock has made my life a lot easier as well as giving new meaning to trackability and traceability. As it’s a digital platform, all the information I need is accessible whenever I need it, wherever I am. I’m able to automatically record the latest information and even set up reminders for things like vaccinations. There’s even a filters section which can sort animals based on defined characteristics. If a lamb is not picking up weight as quickly as others I can easily identify it and try to establish the root cause of the problem. The bottom line is that between them, iLivestock and eWeigh are giving me an edge. It’s a fantastic product.”
Derik Peach, a farmer from Middleburg, Mpumalanga, agrees that eWeigh is highly efficient and enables more accurate record keeping. He estimates that he has cut his record keeping time by more than 50% since starting to use eWeigh. “eWeigh is easy to use, very accurate and generates an immediate report. I highly recommend it,” he says.
iLivestock and eWeigh have revolutionised traceability in the local livestock industry, points out CEO of Tal-Tec Greg Talbot. “Farmers now have the ability to keep very detailed records without too much effort about every individual animal from its heritage (dam and sire), to its birth date, weight at different ages, vaccinations and medicines, to feed, amongst others.”