Beef and dairy farmers are joining forces to raise money for testicular cancer, while also improving their herd genetics as part of Breedr’s Bulls Out for Cancer campaign.
Running throughout May and June, the campaign aims to raise £5,000 for the OddBalls Foundation, at the same time as helping farmers to improve their breeding and performance.
Using the free Breedr app, farmers can register all of their breeding information – like when they turn out the bull, calving ease and weaning weights.
With regular growth data they can then identify the best performing bloodlines and management practices.
For every bull logged in the app in May and June, Breedr will donate £10 to the OddBalls Foundation, with an extra 10p added for each bulling activity or artificial insemination added.
Farmers who share their photos or video on Twitter with the hashtag #BullsOutForCancer will earn another £1 for the charity.
“Around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year, and the OddBalls Foundation is all about raising awareness and getting men to check themselves regularly,” explains Suzy Wheal, co-founder of Breedr.
Since its launch in 2019, Breedr has helped farmers to monitor and predict growth rates, keep track of medicine usage, and maximise productivity based on real-time data.
It recently launched a live trading platform for farmers to buy and sell cattle as well as the world’s first smart, minimum-priced beef contract.
Now it is unveiling a suite of free breeding tools, enabling farmers to collect all their information in one place and benchmark against industry standard Key Performance Indicators.
“By collating information on fertility performance, bloodlines, calving ease, birth weights and growth rates, farmers can easily see which animals perform best,” says Mrs Wheal.
“Whether you’re a suckler beef producer or a dairy farmer, selecting superior parents for breeding will lead to cumulative and permanent gains in the herd productivity, efficiency and profitability.”
AHDB Beef & Lamb provides industry targets to help producers make improvements, but both data capture and entry are manual, making for a time-consuming process. “But with the free app, data capture is quick and easy, with automatic interpretation and free reports for farmers to use.”
Charlie Beaty farms 85 Simmental cross suckler cows with her father and uncle at The Dairy Farm, Meriden, Warwickshire, and has just joined the 3,000 farmers already using the Breedr app.
“At the moment, my uncle has management software on his computer, so we have to use a pen and paper each day to keep records,” she says.
“It’s just not accessible or easy to use. Having that information accessible to all of us, on our phones, all the time, is going to be a massive benefit.”
Live information on each animal will make it easier to pick up issues and address them, she adds. “We can see what’s bulling, what’s in-calf and who to, birth weights, growth rates and so on.
“That will help highlight where there are problems: We had an infertile bull a few years ago and it massively affected our calving interval – we’re only getting back to a tight block now. With solid data, we would have picked that up more quickly.”
Miss Beaty is also looking forward to benchmarking against the AHDB performance indicators. “I want to look at where we can reduce our costs of production – I think we’ll definitely find some key points on which to focus when we have all of our fertility information in one place.”