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Data is key for store cattle success: Tom Samuel

Posted by Chloe Dunne on June 1, 2021

When growing store cattle, weights are everything, and trading animals on that data gives both buyers and sellers certainty, as one producer in Devon has discovered. 

Tom Samuel, who buys and sells about 750 head of cattle a year at South Lendon Farm near Exeter, has a specific system of buying stock that have not been done up to sell and growing them on quickly. “I buy plain 320-400kg cattle at 12-16 months old, which have been kept hard; on arrival they are wormed, clipped and dehorned, as necessary. I turn them into an isolation pen, transition them onto a formulated ration and sell them on after 100-120 days at about 500kg.”

Weighing the stock in, out and every month, Mr Samuel keeps a close eye on performance, and records all the data through the free Breedr app on his phone. “I recently bought some new scales, which are so easy as they Bluetooth the weights to my phone. Using the app, I can see daily liveweight gains, predicted growth curves, medicines and livestock movements, and I can filter the cattle into different groups,” he says. “It’s really user friendly.”

When it came to selling the latest batch of animals, Mr Samuel decided to try the Breedr marketplace, putting over 3,000 potential buyers at his fingertips. He listed a group of 46 steers and heifers on the app and sold them within days for close to the asking price. “The cattle were collected within a week, the customer was delighted with them, and Breedr paid directly into my bank within 72 hours – it was so easy,” he says. 

Even better, there was no haulage to pay, no time wasted, and – for the first three trades – no commission paid. “I had 50 new cattle waiting to come into the sheds, and it was an excellent process for the buyer as it’s totally fair and transparent on weights. They knew what they were going to get.”

Mr Samuel houses all of his cattle and feeds a Total Mixed Ration, achieving average daily growth rates of 1.4kg. “We feed maize, grass silage, brewers’ grains, barley and urea: We get phenomenal growth rates. Often, cattle which have stalled on the previous farm will exceed 2kg daily liveweight gain and produce 80-90kg of compensatory growth within the first six weeks of arrival.”

He can finish stock on his farm, but with store prices where they are, the current system works best. “I find it’s better to specialise – those farmers with a finishing contract are best placed to finish stock, and it means there is really strong demand for forward store cattle which I sell. I’ve never sold any stores based on individual weights and actual liveweight gains before, but it works really well.”

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