A new data-driven beef supply contract has launched to guarantee farmers and crofters a minimum price for their cattle in future.
Precision livestock company Breedr, which has launched the contract, says it is the first of its kind in the world and it will offer a 24-month minimum price for any cattle with lifetime data.
It follows on from Breedr’s livestock app, launched last year and used by more than 2,000 farmers across the UK, which offers farmers a free platform to record data – such as weight, breeding details, medicine records and diet.
The app acts as a place for storing an animal’s data and it also includes predictive tools to assess when a beast will be ready for slaughter.
“As beef producers ourselves, we know how tricky is it to plan ahead with confidence – one batch of bad calves can ruin a farm, as can a downturn in the beef market,” said Breedr‘s founder and chief executive Ian Wheal.
“But by making better use of data we can buy and sell with transparency, predict growth rats, and know that we’re supplying the processor with what they want – ensuring a secure end market and price.”
He said the new contract had the potential to transform the British beef industry and it could be worth more than £130 million to British beef producers over the next seven years.
As well as offering a minimum price for cattle up to 24-months-old, provided they have data from birth, rearers can also opt to be paid on a per kg growth basis with advanced payments available.
“Breedr handles all of the payments, including advanced payments to farmers, and we have set up secure banking systems for this,” added Mr Wheal.
“There is a product fee against the advanced payments. The app is free for farmers to use but there is a commission when people [use the app to] trade animals between farms. If farmers want to enter into a cost per kg gain then Breedr’s costs are factored into it – it keeps it simple.”
He said the new contract was initially being trialled through Dunbia, but work was under way to get other processors involved.
Warwickshire livestock farmer Adam Quinney, who is chairman of the beef and lamb sector board at UK levy body AHDB, backed the contract and said the use of data could benefit efforts to export British meat around the globe.
He said: “For any trade deal, you need to have good traceability and provenance. That is very important for high value markets. The type of data we are producing is what is needed and that will help processors have positive conversations [with exporters].”