Hazel Thompson on her farm in Ballyraggan, County Carlow using Herdwatch
Hazel and James Thompson farm in Ballyraggan, County Carlow, running both a commercial and pedigree herd, Ballyraggan Herefords, as well as some tillage.
The majority of the commercial herd are calved down in spring with their offspring sold off as strong weanlings.
The pedigree Herefords start to calve down in July and over the autumn months.
The pedigree bulls are generally kept until they are 18-20 months and then sold off as breeding bulls.
The pedigree heifers are kept or sold depending on market demands.
Farm paperwork was always an issue on the farm with the task usually falling on to Hazel’s lap who couldn’t dedicate sufficient time to it as she works off farm as well.
They researched many software packages and signed up to Herdwatch at the National Ploughing Championships in 2015 and got their animals details downloaded onto the app straight away.
Since becoming members, they haven’t looked back.
“In the beginning, I was sceptical but after I did a few things on Herdwatch I found it very handy,” said Hazel.
Last year, the Thompsons had their first Bord Bia inspection since they started using the app and found it made things very simple.
“When the auditor said he was coming I was able to print off the reports from Herdwatch the night before and on the day of the audit he flew through the reports.
“You can input twice as much in Herdwatch in half the time and the system has all the withdrawals periods,” she said.
As a pedigree breeder, Hazel finds Herdwatch great for registering the pedigree calves and getting the animals details on the spot.
“Due to the fact we have the pedigrees I can input the pedigree name for each calf when registering them - we find it very handy for that,” said Hazel.
Ease of calving can easily be checked when it comes to selling and breeding the pedigree bulls. It is “precision match making” at its best.
“We have three stock bulls on the farm so, prior to breeding, if I see a good calf from a certain cow I can use Herdwatch to check which bull the calf was bred by and arrange to let that particular cow back to that bull.
“I can also easily check if I had a difficult calving with one of the cows and I can make sure she is not allowed back with the same bull,” she pointed out.
Hazel would be the first to admit she’s not the best on the smartphone and finds it great that she can also use Herdwatch on her laptop and the information is backed up to her phone automatically.
“What I do find great is when you are standing in front of an animal I can get all of their information there and then on the phone, I can see what they are bred by age and the last time they were dosed,” she said.
Hazel and James are part of a growing community of over 6,500 farmers using Herdwatch every day to manage their farms and eliminate farm compliance paperwork.
Get your free trial at www.herdwatch.ie or text frs HW115 + your name to 51444 for a call back from the team.