Online auction platform sees a way to better connect beef supply chain

Online seller now connects cattle in paddock to whole beef supply chain

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PORTABLE SCALES: The Optiweigh unit, developed by NSW New England beef producer Bill Mitchell, allows the constant monitoring of the weight gains of mobs of cattle without the need to muster the animals into yards.

PORTABLE SCALES: The Optiweigh unit, developed by NSW New England beef producer Bill Mitchell, allows the constant monitoring of the weight gains of mobs of cattle without the need to muster the animals into yards.

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FarmGate Auctions is including the real-time date from an innovative in-paddock cattle weighing system into its online selling platform.

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Online selling platform FarmGate Auctions has introduced autonomous in-paddock weighing and data collection which gives the whole supply chain real-time access to data on the performance of livestock.

Developed by Armidale, NSW, producer Bill Mitchell, Optiweigh won the 2021 Meat and Livestock Australia Producer Innovation Award at last week's Beef Australia event in Rockhampton.

Optiweigh is a self-powered portable weighing unit fitted with a NLIS reader which can be towed into a paddock with a quad bike.

Individual cattle are enticed to poke their head and two front legs into the small unit with an attractant like a molasses or salt lick block where they are weighed and then algorithms used to accurately calculate the weight of the whole animal.

It doesn't matter if not every beast in a paddock is attracted into the scales because the date collected from the majority which do enter provides an accurate guide to the weight gains and performance of the whole mob.

FarmGate Auctions client relationship manager Kate Gooden said Optiweigh allowed traders, lotfeeders, processors and exporters to see a sale lot's average mob weight and average daily weight gain in the lead up to auction, giving real-time data on the stock they are looking to buy.

Ms Gooden said the integration between the online auction platform and Optiweigh allowed buyers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

"Lotfeeders can access accurate data on average daily weight gain during the backgrounding phase to assess future feedlot performance and accurately estimate how long they would need to feed the stock," she said.

"Combining Optiweigh and the FarmGate Auctions platform allows sellers to market their livestock to a national audience.

"Sellers can also use the data to make informed breeding decisions, giving them the ability to assess what stock perform and make longer term business plans.

Buyers will be able to access Optiweigh data on weight distribution, mob average weights and average daily gain in real time on their mobile phone.

Buyers will be able to access Optiweigh data on weight distribution, mob average weights and average daily gain in real time on their mobile phone.

FarmGate Auctions chief executive officer Nigel Gosse said Optiweigh was already a leader in in-paddock weighing, with more than 90 units operating Australia wide from Kununurra in WA to Tasmania.

"Optiweigh lots will be listed on the FarmGate Auctions website for a longer period of time enabling buyers to monitor weight gain and assess the potential of the cattle for their own contracts or feedlot situation," Mr Gosse said.

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"Providing more in depth information will give those purchasing online even greater confidence.

"Australia is leading the world in this technology and it will be a global first so it's pretty exciting.

"Normally stock are listed for 10 days before our weekly cattle sales but with Optiweigh we will allow longer because of the weight gain information coming through.

"We could have a sale 30 days away and that weight gain information would be populating leading up to the sale so potential buyers can see the data.

"There is no work for the producer as those weights will be coming through to FarmGate Auctions automatically."

Founder of Optiweigh Bill Mitchell said Optiweigh data was now available for direct integration from the farm paddock to the FarmGate Auctions platform.

"This creates opportunities for the farmer to use the data in ways that potentially bring them better value," Mr Mitchell said.

"We are opening another way for the farmer to reduce costs associated with selling stock and take more advantage of market opportunities when selling stock by having real time liveweights out of the paddock."

The data generated by Optiweigh is independently verifiable information on weight gain trends and weight range composition of the mob.

Using a solar powered portable unit in the paddock, livestock weight can be constantly monitored from a desktop computer or mobile phone app with no extra fencing or animal training required, h said.

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