Holmes Sacket intern consultant Hilary Beech has participated in the ASKBILL validation trials and believes the latest changes to the forecasting tool will deliver the improved accuracy producers need to enhance flock productivity and wellbeing.
ASKBILL is web-based software that complements graziers’ knowledge with detailed forecasts about their livestock, and pastures, and predicts opportunities and threats to individual properties from the weather, pests or disease.
Developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), it uses short- and long-term weather forecasts in conjunction with actual sheep and pasture measurements to provide sheep producers with the critical information needed for making more precise farming decisions.
“I now find it quite accurate and in this area it has been very useful in predicting what production will be like over the next three months as we come into shearing and then lambing,” Ms Beech said.
“The predictions on wool growth rates and hot standard carcase weight, based on the parameters of the sheep, will be really useful to producers.
“And it will be a useful tool to be able to gauge how a farming system is coping with changes to the production environment by using the pasture growth and pasture availability tools, along with the tool predicting dry matter availability based on stocking rate.”
Ms Beech is working as a livestock consultant intern with leading benchmarking and farm consulting agency Holmes Sackett, Wagga Wagga, as part of the Meat & Livestock Australia Donor Company program, Future Livestock Consultants.
As part of this role, Ms Beech has been participating since March in the Sheep CRC’s ASKBILL validation trials by testing the accuracy of the system’s predictions using a local producer’s self-replacing Merino flock and investigating how useful those predictions are for making better management decisions.
Her regular testing and feedback was invaluable in helping the ASKBILL development team to remove a number of glitches and improve the accuracy of the pasture and productivity predictions to the point that Ms Beech is now confident in using the tool on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s now taking into account things that I would not have thought of when making production forecasts,” Ms Beech said.
“It’s definitely making me double check on things I’ve recommended to producers and it’s definitely a tool that consultants can use to make sure they’re on the right track and haven’t overlooked anything.”
- ASKBILL will be commercially released to the industry in August. More information is available at www.askbill.com.au.