Future-proofing production

As part of SCFF's continuous improvement programme, work is now being undertaken that it is hoped will eventually improve the efficiency of information through the supply chain, and the quality of meat produced.

"We're trying to future-proof our supplies" says managing director Richard Phelps. Electronics and genetics are at the heart of initiatives that are expected to yield huge benefits in two years.

A smarter cattle ear tag is the electronic initiative under development. Ear tags have not only been commonplace but mandatory on cattle as part of the drive for traceability for several years.

Most of the present tags in use are based on the old-fashioned barcode system but the one under development with SCFF uses a microchip.

Rather than having to get very close to the animal to read or input data a wide range of information can be received or sent from a distance using a handheld, Bluetooth enabled transmitter. The animal simply has to be in range.

Particularly beneficial to farmers is the fact that they do not have to input any written data manually into record books back at the office after their inspection of the animals - it can all be done instantly using a palmtop.

SCFF have gone into partnership with West Country company Shearwells to form Blade Farmworks for development of the new tagging system. Another partnership has been formed with genetics company Genus to improve the quality of bulls used to produce calves.