FARM SMART: New sheep management tool, Flockwatch helping farmers become more profitable
| Mar 14, 2022
Built by sheep farmers for sheep farmers
In the first of our Flockwatch Farm Smart series we visit father & son team Tom & Michael Staunton on the banks of Lough Mask, County Mayo. Michael is no stranger to the Flockwatch app having played a major role in the production of the brand new sheep management tool as part of the Flockwatch team.
Michael was extremely excited at the prospect of working on the Flockwatch project from the outset which he says will become invaluable for both him and his father Tom in their day to day operations on the farm. “We are always looking for ways to improve our farm here, we would consider ourselves progressive sheep farmers with a strong emphasis on continuous improvement to ensure we become more profitable.” The Staunton family have a proud history of sheep farming dating back over four generations.
Michael illustrated the need for a sheep management app on the market to allow sheep farmers to become more profitable.
“Sheep farmers don’t have an app like this, Flockwatch will enable us to make better decisions and at the end of the day when we make better decisions we are going to have more lambs.”
Four generations of sheep farming on the banks of Lough Mask
Tom took control of the family farm from his father back in the early 80’s and up until ten years ago the family ran a mixed stock farm with both cattle & sheep with a relatively small flock size. However as time moved on Tom decided the land take they had didn’t suit cows and decided to focus his attention solely on sheep with his flock aptly named “Mask View” as they graze the land overlooking the wonderful Lough Mask.
Throughout the years Tom worked tirelessly increasing the flock size year in year out to where it is today, amounting to over 300 ewes now on farm. The family run a pedigree flock of blue faced Leicester’s and also cross breed lather type ewes to produce mules which are part of the Mayo mule producer group.
Sheep farming is in the blood for the Staunton’s, Michaels brother Thomas is the co-owner of sheepproducts.ie, an online service allowing sheep farmers across Ireland to purchase a wide rang of farming products which can be delivered to their door.
Introducing Flockwatch to improve profitability
The next step to improve operations on the Staunton family farm is the introduction of Flockwatch. The pair have been getting to grips with the app over the last couple of months, heavily involved in the testing & production, the app has been put to good use on the Mask View flock already.
The pair have always placed a strong emphasis on performance recording although it wasn’t a simple task in times gone by. “Performance recording has always been really important to us, being able to assess our flock and our management at the end of the year is key for us to enable us to make decisions”. However until now, performance recording was a time heavy process for the Staunton’s and often data could be hard to interpret, “before, it was all paper and excel sheets and it was a tiresome process trying to stay in line with data, often you would just get mixed up and it just wasn’t an efficient method of performance recording.”
Flockwatch now provides the pair with a simple solution to record their data, “to have all the information we need at our fingertips is invaluable for us, being able to see all our sheep’s data on the spot will allow us to make decisions in minutes when before it would have taken hours”.
“Flockwatch is designed to help sheep farmers turn data into profit & sell more lambs, it allows sheep farmers to simply manage flock performance individually or in groups”
Get your sheep into Flockwatch with simple EID reader integration
Unlike cattle sheep cannot be downloaded simply, you have to put them in manually which is not an easy task especially for sheep farmers like Michael & Tom with over 300 ewes. However the simple integration of an EID reader to Flockwatch makes this task a much simpler process. “Connecting your EID reader is so simple, you just pull up your Flockwatch app, click the Bluetooth button, select connect and there you have it connected, simple as that.”
“Getting your sheep into Flockwatch for the first time is a simple process, if you have your sheep in a race or in the shed all you have to do is scan through them with the reader and there you have it, they will go straight into the app.” Once your flock are in the Flockwatch app you can then begin grouping your flock by breeding rams, ewes, culled ewes, lambs etc. to make medicine recording, breeding, weighing etc. a much simpler task. “Identifying your sheep with EID reader integration is a life saver, scan any sheep and the profile pops up on the phone in front of you, it’s great!”
Error free medicine recording with Flockwatch
Recording medicines before Flockwatch was pen and paper for the duo with the old black book coming into play although errors were a mainstay when it came to dosing time.
“Before we would be trying to dose 50/60 sheep at a time and trying to record every tag number that got dosed was impossible we would always be missing a few and second guessing had we dosed this ewe etc. now with Flockwatch you have your sheep in the race, you can pull up your phone input the remedy your using and scan through the flock with the reader and it’s job done.”
Panic the night before farm assurance audits a thing of the past
Bord bia inspections in times gone by was all hands to the pump in the Staunton household. “Bord bia inspections were always a stressful time here, scrambling for paperwork and finding out on the backs of bits of cardboard what we have used”. Going forward the Stauntons are looking forward to stress free bord bia audits, “we will be recording everything that comes from the vet and it will go straight into the app and when the audit comes around we can just simply print the reports from the app and hand it to the auditor, job done, there’s no preparation the night before now everything is just ready to go!”
“Flockwatch is going to make life so much easier for us”
The most important aspect of harvesting the data and making better decisions for the Stauntons revolves around their breeding management. “Flockwatch from a breeding perspective for us is just replacing the paperwork we had before and making the data more accessible. Starting off with our lambing task, we are now quickly able to record lambing, match the sires to the lamb and match the dam and record that information in seconds.”
Managing the data through the full breeding cycle will enable the Stauntons to identify their poor performing animals and make more informed decisions around their flock. “Throughout the cycle we are going to be able to manage our sheep from whether its weighing them, to scanning, to lambing time, to breeding season we are going to be able to record all this information so at the end of the year we are going to be able to make informed decisions on what ram worked best for us, what ewes worked best for us had we any trouble in during the year was lameness an issue, all this information that we will need at the end of the year to make informed decisions on our flock, the whole point of it is we are going to be able to weed out our poor performing ewes and poor performing rams, more lambs at the end of the day that’s what we are looking for, more lambs from the same ewes, that’s the key!”
“More lambs from the same ewes, that’s the key!”
Download Flockwatch today
Flockwatch is a brand new service that will help you sell more lambs by tracking ewe and flock performance. Brought to you by the same team that created Herdwatch in a simple, easy to use app.
You too can join Tom & Michael saving time on farm paperwork and managing their farms more efficiently. To get started on Flockwatch today:
1. Download the FREE Herdwatch app from the app or play store.
2. Select “Sheep” & you will be redirected to the Flockwatch app.