AHDB divisions develop cattle information initiative
Published:  02 April, 2015

Just shy of £300,000 has been made available to develop a prototype system for the exchange of cattle information across the supply chain.

The green light for the project has been given by Agri-tech Catalyst, run jointly by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and Research Councils.

The 12-month feasibility project is being co-ordinated and project-managed by the beef and dairy divisions of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Eblex said the system could effectively work as a search engine to facilitate data exchange between government, industry and private databases, so that key information can be brought together and presented through a single portal – for example at auction markets.

For the first time, it could also provide the cattle industry with a facility to underpin risk-based trading for economically important diseases such bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), Johnes disease and bovine TB (bTB).

AHDB said it was working with more than 20 industry collaborators, including industry databases, farm management software suppliers, auction markets and abattoir system providers. Shearwell Data will have primary responsibility to deliver the final technical specification, to be agreed by an industry project steering group, which includes organisations such as the National Farmers’ Union, British Meat Processors Association, Eblex and Dairy Co.

Norfolk farmer John Cross, who is chairing the project steering group, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity, where industry itself has taken the initiative to develop what has been needed for a very long time. It has the potential to increase operating efficiency, reduce farmer costs and increase our capacity to control economically important diseases.

“All the information relating to each animal is out there – but it’s sitting in different locations. Making this information more available at key points will be a significant step forward.”