Let’s face it there is some weird shit going on in our livestock industries at the moment. We have heads in the sand over issues such as mulesing, people covertly watching discussion groups through one-way mirrors, arguments over whether there should be only one Research and Development Corporation (RDC) rather than two (MLA & AWI), and then more arguments over whether it is right that one RDC covers both northern and southern beef industries. The industry has its fair share of dysfunctional activities happening at the moment, and plenty to get frustrated about as a producer. But don’t let that distract you from the excitement!
While all of that crap goes on in the background, we also have record prices, and staggering results being achieved in the paddock with –
* Great conception rates consistently being achieved in both sheep and cattle
* Lamb survival rates reaching levels we haven’t seen before under commercial conditions
* Lamb and calf growth rates that amaze us more and more every year
We have technology coming like a freight train with –
* Electronic ID (EID) now becoming a normal part of management, allowing us to see, and capitalise on the variation in performance that exists within a mob of sheep or cattle.
* Carcass feedback including the use of DXA for measuring lean meat yield in both beef and sheep carcasses,
* Objective measurement of meat eating quality for individual carcasses in both sheep and beef
* Proximity & GPS tags or collars being commercialised for matching lambs to ewes, or calves to cows, and even tracking grazing behaviour across a paddock.
* Pasture monitoring technology that allows objective measurement of feed quality in real time
* Drones that will provide autonomous pasture monitoring, stock checking, and who knows what else
* Development of alternative shearing methods back on the agenda, and actually being used
* Online livestock selling platforms allowing genuine “marketing” opportunities for producers
That is just to name a few, and I am sure that there are plenty of other things I have missed, or that are still on the horizon. My honest opinion is that we will see more change in our industry in the next 10 years, than we have seen in the last 50. The big question is, are you ready for it? Are you part of it? Or are you going to be the person still using a VHS video while the rest of the world is streaming movies straight from the internet?
As I see it, there will be people, jobs, and organisations that could easily find themselves being left behind while the industry just gets on with adopting new technology, being progressive, productive, and having a crack. Never forget what happened to KODAK. They were blissfully unaware of the disruption that digital technology would bring. What seemed like overnight (was actually 10 years from the first warning to management, to actuality), they went from owning the photography market, to not having a market at all! So my message to every person, business and organisation in our industry - Don’t be KODAK!
There will be challenges, not doubt. But no challenge, would in my book, mean no progress. We must expect challenges, and embrace them. If we keep doing the same things, we will keep getting the same results.
Don’t just jump into new things simply because they are new. Assess each on their merits, and work out how it can help you be better at what you do. Some will make you more money, others will simply make life that bit easier. And some will achieve bugger all. But all, are new developments, and offer potential opportunities for your business.
Should you just look for progress within your own business, or also contribute to improving the industry as a whole?
Hopefully both, but one of the greatest challenges for industry, is that often the most progressive thinking farmers, achieving the best results, just simply can’t be F%&*# with the AgriPolitics. They would rather just get on with being successful. There is nothing wrong with that, but while ever that is the case, the current agripolitical scene will remain the same. But that is a topic for another day.
In the meantime, embrace the change coming in our industry. Our livestock industries are set for a major shakeup. You have a chance to be part of it, or you can choose to be KODAK. Don’t be KODAK!