A commitment to the use of computer-based data recording is making a big difference to the way North Yorkshire pig farmer, Stephen Tuer, runs his business, enabling him to monitor the performance of his 1200-sow enterprise according to accurate facts and figures which are also “bang up to the minute”.
Speaking to farmers at this week’s Pig & Poultry Fair as part of AHDB Pork presentation of how achieve “calm out of the chaos”, Mr Tuer kicked off by challenging his audience not to be “frightened” of computers.
“Having spent a period of about eight years away from farming, working as an airline pilot, I was used to the idea that some jobs include the need to monitor stuff, whether we like it or not,” he said. “We also have to deal with technology, again whether we like it or not, and make it work for us.”
Applying this philosophy to his 1000-acre pig and arable business has resulted in the farm staff each being given android phones through which to record all the key pig production activities of births, deaths, farrowing, weaning and servicing, removing their pens and paper in the process.
“Every time they walk past one of our farm Wi-Fi hotspots, everything they’ve entered into their phones is logged and stored for me to access and analyse,” said Mr Tuer.
“It means we’re bang up to the minute with our information, knowing what task have been completed in the past few minutes and who completed it. This isn’t about big brother watching, however, but an essential window on how to manage a farm tightly and efficiently.”
If the data shows that some members of staff are better at one task than another, the obvious choice is to use people where they’re going to have the maximum positive impact on the performance of the business. If the data also shows up an additional need for staff training, then that is also addressed.
“We run a scoring system for the staff,” said Mr Tuer, “not to penalise anyone but to make sure they are each used for the jobs they’re best at. The same system also helps us to identify the best day of the week, or time of day, to carry out certain operations, all with the ultimate aim of improving our bottom line.”
Headline image shows Stephen Tuer (left) and outdoor pig producer, Simon Watchorn, who also contributed to the “calm out of the chaos” session. Pig World will report on Watchorn’s presentation tomorrow.