Rayner Reckons

Oct 20

A System to Provide Independent Cattle Assessments

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014

Earlier this year I was undertaking some work in Brisbane.  While I was in town I was contacted by Angus Burnett-Smith who wanted to talk to me about cattle assessment work.  I have to admit I was pleased to be contacted, largely because it seemed like a good chance to meet someone new, and hopefully it might bring some more work towards RaynerAg!

Well I was right on both of those assumptions!  Angus is the brains and energy behind an online livestock marketing system.  In simplest terms the ClassiMate model combines independent assessment of breeding livestock with an online marketing platform for those animals.

The model has proven to be very successful with small ruminant animals, and Angus was keen to discuss with me the opportunity to extend the platform to beef cattle.

It certainly was an exciting proposition.  

There are plenty of methods used in the beef industry to describe cattle. The challenge was to draw on those to develop a system that would allow breeders to be able to list their cattle on line, and for potential buyers to view those cattle with complete confidence in the way those animals had been assessed.

I reckon it was a challenge I had to accept, and I went away and worked with several industry people who have a level of experience and industry knowledge I respect.  Between us we looked at the current industry methods, and considered what traits are most important to assess in breeding animals. 

With a lot of research, discussion and testing, I was able to report back to Angus and the ClassiMate team we had developed a system we are confident in to assess with credibility and repeatability, breeding cattle of both sexes.  

The ClassiMate assessment system assesses structural soundness; temperament; fertility and muscle.  These are the traits that are important in any breeding enterprise, and using these as the basis for selection will certainly drive the performance of any beef business.  

Now that the system has been established the role of RaynerAg will be to provide ClassiMate members with the assessment service so that they can list their animals on the website. 

RaynerAg will not be working for ClassiMate.  I'll provide an independent service (along with the other team members) that is arranged on demand as people require it.

So what happens now?  Well firstly I reckon its important to remember that assessing your animals on their physical merits won't replace the value of EBVs which describe the genetic potential of an animal.  So if you are in BreedPlan I'd encourage you to continue to monitor and record the traits required to contribute to your EBVs.  

However having the opportunity to have your animals independently assessed for their structural soundness, temperament; fertility and muscle can be incredibly beneficial.  

Assessments such as these will allow you to select out animals that are not suited to your environment; to your market specifications or are just not right for your program.  

If you are trying to market your livestock and one option is to advertise your livestock online, providing potential buyers with an independent assessment of your animals can add to your credibility. 

I reckon there will be opportunities for breeders who are looking to try and combine traditional marketing techniques with online marketing.  There would be no reason why bulls in a sale catalogue or females in a feature sale couldn't be accompanied with both their individual EBVs and a ClassiMate score.  That way you address genetic potential and the animal's physical traits at the same time.

I'm pleased I was able to work with a great team to develop this system. Naturally I hope ClassiMate see's new members that are looking to have their cattle assessed!  But I also have to be honest and say I'm pleased that a team of people I respect came together to put some ideas together to have a system in place that will aid beef producers across Australia improve their herds and hopefully move much closer to their owners goals.  

If you are interested in joining ClassiMate you can get in touch with them yourself.  As an independent assessor, my connection with ClassiMate is now purely to be on their list of cattle assessors and to ensure the system used to assess cattle into the future maintains industry relevance and credibility.  I reckon it will work and I think there will be plenty of producers who will gain a lot from both the assessments and the new marketing opportunities. 

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