Accurate data, technology drives couples’ decision making
Matt and Lynley Wyeth of Spring Valley Enterprises run a pretty smooth operation. Their approach is dynamic, using science and technology to get the best from their business as well as positioning themselves at the leading edge of their farming class.
They’re honest when they say it’s difficult to keep up with the ever-changing farming environment but they’re strong believers in their motto “what we did yesterday may not be what we’re doing tomorrow,” and therefore have always sought trail-blazing products and businesses to work with, in order to keep them on the front foot.
Around fitteen years ago, they were approached by Allfl ex NZ to trial their EIDs when they first came to New Zealand.
“Matt is a real data person,” says Lynley. “He was always looking for facts and figures and to find a way to be able to monitor and track everything our animals were doing.”
Running a 1600ha breeding/finishing sheep and beef farm with 14,000 stock units, tracking and monitoring everything was no easy task. “Before using electronic ear tags we didn’t have any way to do that.”
They began using EIDs on just their ewe flock, now all their animals, including 7300 ewes, 3000 hoggets, 340 Angus cows and 400 replacement and trade cattle are equipped with them.
Lynley says it means each of their animals ultimately has their own health records, as the tags unlock access to individual animal’s data. Alongside the EID system, Matt and Lynley chose to work with Gallagher’s monitoring and weighing equipment.
“The Gallagher equipment will scan the ear tags and tell us how much the animal has gained in weight and we can also allocate specific health treatments to that animal using that equipment as well.”
These systems combined with the ability to analyse data through Silverfern Farms’ IQ programme means they can maintain consistency in their product across their entire stock. “We are never guessing with our animals,” says Matt. “We’ve got data that tells us what our next move could be or should be.
That’s the good thing about getting live, current information; it allows you to make timely accurate decisions.” The cohesiveness of these systems didn’t happen by chance.
Before Matt and Lynley adopt any new technology or engage a new agribusiness they ensure their core values align with what they are trying to achieve through research and by actually sitting down to interview those they are considering working with.
“We are investing a heck of a lot of time and money into these products and technologies. We can’t afford to make big mistakes with stuff like that,” Lynley says. Springtime is what it all boils down to.
Lambing, explains Matt, is their biggest key farm indicator. It’s proof that all their technology, data collection and monitoring throughout the year has been successful.
“We treat it like a harvest. We put a lot of technology into getting the ewes pregnant and getting those lambs on the ground – we do whatever we can to maximise that harvest.”
Each year, Lynley hand rears up to 400 lambs to ensure they don’t succumb to the Waiarapa’s unpredictable forces of nature. Any lamb that is vulnerable out in bad weather, or that might die overnight, is placed in their purpose-built orphan shed to give it the best possible chance. “It’s a very small part of what we do to be as ethical as possible.”
And again, it’s the agribusinesses that Matt and Lynley are involved with that make sure they get the best out of their processes.
After partaking in some trial work with the Innovation Farm Program through Beef + Lamb NZ, they noticed a lot of abomasal bloat among the lambs, which was caused by the whole milk powder they were using.
“One of Vetservice’s vets, Sara Sutherland, suggested we try a whey-based milk product from Agrivantage.”
The product, Sprayfo Primo Lamb milk, is the only product of its kind in New Zealand. “I haven’t had a single bloat lamb since using their product; I get good growth rates and have really healthy lambs.”
At such a critical time of year, these businesses are on speed dial and each and every one of them will be available to assist regardless of the time of day.
That’s because, Lynley says, the people they are surrounded by share their passion, they’re specialists in what they do and together they are all working towards a common goal to run a sustainable and ethical business.
And that’s what makes Spring Valley Enterprises such a smooth operation.
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