Farming beef in the UK was once predominantly a job of generations where family owned farms bought and sold their beef cattle using “back of Bensons” pricing and deals on the strength of a handshake. In modern times though, things have progressed quite a bit.
From small farms with adorning cottages to sprawling estates with automated processes to ensure optimal beef production. This is the way of progress and, to feed the growing appetite of the nation, has been a necessary step towards efficient farming.
Cows are often sold by “hundredweight” which is a price amount per 100lb of cow with you (the buyer) only paying for what the cows weigh at the time of the sale and your due diligence with the provenance of the cow, its upbriging, its lifestyle, and its feed all taken into account with mounds of paperwork being laboriously sorted through to ensure the fairest price is paid.
Breedr was founded in 2018 by Ian Wheal and is the world’s first fully digital exchange for livestock. With over 2,000 members and 120,000 registered animals, Breedr is poised to revolutionise the way that farmers raise their livestock, how producers buy their livestock, and how the quality of meat that lands on our plate is verified.
Users can record animal weights, medicines, breeding information and deadweight performance, which means they can identify the best genetics and production protocols to improve growth rates and finish animals a lot more efficiently.
The app records individual liveweight gain to predict future animal performance and date of sale for optimum profit, which the developers say provides greater transparency throughout the supply chain.
“As beef producers ourselves, we know how tricky it is to plan ahead with confidence – one batch of bad calves can ruin a farm. But by making better use of data, we can buy and sell with transparency using predicted growth rates and clear recording of genetics and medicine use” - Ian Wheal, founder of Breedr
What does Breedr actually do?
The app creates a digital profile for each animal that can be matched with a contract and traded online, meaning producers have an assured sale and buyers can easily source prime beef to order.
To achieve this, data needs to follow the animal throughout the value chain, so Breedr has made it easy to connect to the livestock records and then link all of the information gathered about that animal throughout its lifetime – from weigh heads to veterinary records – to a digital record.
This makes it easy for consumers to buy with confidence and allows producers to invest more into their businesses as they now have a guaranteed sale price to go by.
How will Breedr impact beef prices?
If you’re neither a farmer nor a livestock buyer then this all must sound rather uninteresting. Yes it’s wonderful that farmers and clients now have a way of tracking and trading livestock in a way not unlike the popular card game but what is the bottom line? What does this mean for the beef in your shopping basket?
Well, we are delighted to say, it is good news for the consumer too!
With the price certainty offered by Breedr giving producers confidence to invest in their business and the data used to improve efficiencies throughout the supply chain, producers will be able to understand exactly what a cow needs to grow efficiently without going overbudget.
It is estimated that If every single beef farmer in the UK installed Breedr and acted on the date provided, the industry would save 3.6 million tonnes of feed a year and significantly reduce the sector’s carbon footprint while also saving themselves up to £650million.
Cattle would finish five months earlier, and 24% more would hit the target specification. This will have a massive impact on the sectors overall environmental friendliness and also help to improve the consistency and quality of the beef on your Sunday dinner.
Breedr has certainly helped a lot of farmers so far and, having just secured a contract with the huge producer Dunbai worth an estimated £120million, the future of the firm is certainly looking bright.
Will it herald in a new age of raising cattle? It’s most certainly a step in the right direction and a step into a totally untapped market. It may be a good few years before we see any knock-on effects as a consumer but I have no doubt that Breedr will soon have some competition if it doesn’t already.
All in all, this is a massive win for the British beef industry and the British beef consumers so we’re keeping a close eye on Breedr and look forward to seeing the next chapter!