With yesterdays announcement by Neogen of another price rise for genomic testing in the sheep industry, Anthony Shepherd of Sheepmatters sees fresh opportunities for the adoption of SmartShepherd across new regions.
“Genomics testing is crucial for the industry as a whole, but it isn’t the only technology available for improving the performance of your flock. Using SmartShepherd it is now possible to commercially measure the body weight and body weight gain of progeny while on their dam. Over the last couple of years it has become apparent that some ewes are capable of raising twins with better individual body weights than singles. This information was very difficult to find out in the past, but SmartShepherd has made it fast and affordable.”
SmartShepherd, now in the third year as a commercial product, is made much more accessible through the network of accredited service providers co-ordinated by Sheepmatters. A network of service providers around Australia now offer SmartShepherd as a local service to their clients. The product delivers results in 48 hours on-farm and doesn’t require samples to be posted back to a lab for processing.
SmartShepherd is also an essential part of the Sheepmatters “Efficient Ewe” program, a 4 year national program that will measure repeatable performance of the financial performance of each ewe. Efficient Ewe uses the calculated value of each lambs weaned carcase value, minus the ewes energy costs required to rear the progeny. The program will look at repeat performance of the ewe over 4 years and will also look at the heritability of the Dams ewe progeny. This is a program that producers are already using as part of their sheep breeding decision making. The program starts in 2020 and still has limited places to fill, with support coming from Meat and Livestock Australia.
Formed in 2015, SmartShepherd has the aim of commercialising the collection of maternal pedigree in free range livestock. After developing a prototype system during 2016 the company attracted the attention of hardware startup accelerator HAX, based in Shenzhen in China. The product initially rolled out to stud producers in 2018, with wider commercial adoption through 2019. Exports to New Zealand, Chile and the United States will expand the presence of SmartShepherd worldwide.
Sheepmatters was founded by Anthony Shepherd in February 2006, and now has clients throughout Australia representing over 1.4 million breeding ewes. Sheepmatters regard their clients as business partners. Sheepmatters provides independent advice to both on-farm and off-farm clients; be it one-on-one or in grower groups (both private and industry). Sheepmatters is heavily involved in sheep industry programs.