Stock Journal

Take the stress out of sheep data collection

Creators of BreedELITE, the Johnsson trio Sam, Greg and Tim Johnsson.

This is branded content for BreedELITE.

Clunky and unsupported technology and the frustrations that it causes have turned many sheep farmers away from embracing tools to make better-informed business and breeding decisions.

An understanding of this often precarious situation farmers found themselves in led to Kangaroo Island's Johnsson family designing and creating the BreedELITE Sheep System.

The trusted team at BreedELITE provides hundreds of sheep farmers all over Australia with a simple, singular operating system that works to produce consistent client results.

Made by sheep specialists for sheep farmers, BreedELITE's software and hardware were designed to work seamlessly to enable farmers to efficiently capture, store, and analyse sheep pedigree and performance data.

This means farmers don't need to be tech geniuses to succeed with precision sheep technology and can instead focus on breeding high-performing, productive sheep.

BreedELITE is not a large corporate company, and clients are not just a number; it is made up of passionate people who want to see farmers thrive.

The BreedELITE Sheep System in action during fleece weighing on the Eyre Peninsula. Tim Johnsson is busy skirting fleeces.

From humble beginnings in Kangaroo Island

Although BreedELITE started in 2015, its beginnings can be traced more than three decades to Kangaroo Island.

BreedELITE CEO and co-founder Tim Johnsson's father was a veterinarian who helped farmers as a breeding consultant, helping them identify animals that should be used to drive production and make genetic gains within the flock.

Growing up on Kangaroo Island, Tim would spend his weekends out on sheep properties, helping his dad.

"They have always had a passion for helping sheep farmers succeed, and in doing so with sound business decisions based on data," Tim said.

"He identified that to have good data, you needed somewhere to store the data and a simple way of inputting it."

Mr Johnsson taught himself to code and developed a computer application for people to record their flock data, and over time, that software became more sophisticated.

"While there were other products on the market for people to use, they had either been adapted from the cattle industry or they were designed for producers to record only small amounts of data, or what is referred to as session data," Tim said.

Tim Johnsson shows off the BreedELITE system at the Classings Classic Merino Sale.

Initially, Tim pursued a career in mechanical engineering but realised it meant spending a lot of time behind a desk instead of out in the field spending time with farmers - something he had enjoyed as a child on Kangaroo Island.

So in 2015, the father and son duo explored the idea of commercialising their existing software product.

However, they quickly realised there was a bigger problem at play in the industry.

"If farmers want to make more profitable decisions, they need to use technology to do so, and there was not one cohesive system from end-to-end," Tim said.

"We were spending so much time fixing hardware problems - it wasn't a sustainable solution for growth.

"There are so many aspects of data collection and analysis, and that can be a very daunting process for the majority of farmers to undertake. Most were learning by trial and error, which is frustrating and makes it harder than it should be."

The Johnssons decided that to deliver an all-in-one precision sheep system properly; then they needed to use their understanding of what farmers were doing on-farm and to think of it as an end-to-end process, from the question (how do I achieve x?) all the way to implementation (based on the data, I clearly need to do y and z).

Autonomy is key to success on-farm

The Johnssons support farmers to use the technology autonomously, so they are able to go as far as they can without hitting a "technological ceiling".

The centralised BreedELITE support team offers on-demand over-the-phone support, in addition to a comprehensive training and onboarding process that has been refined over many years.

"We are here to not only provide the hardware and software but the support, advice and training," Tim said.

"We are their tech and data team, so they can just focus on farming.

"We handle all of the migration, get the system up and running, go through their data with a fine-tooth comb, and then start the process of training them to create good habits."

Showing off some components of the BreedELITE Sheep System. The auto-drafter, the handheld stick reader, tablet and software backed by support and advice are a simple recipe for farmers to succeed with technology.

Tim has long appreciated the relentless, hard work required to be a successful farmer.

"Australian farmers are the hardest working people in the world, so making their life easier is what gets me up in the morning," he said.

"It is incredibly rewarding visiting a farm after they have implemented our equipment and it is no longer frustrating yard work, and they love handling sheep again.

"Helping a farmer who has never used a computer before to implement a full technology system and become autonomous within six months as opposed to years of trial and error makes an incredible difference.

"That's what we are trying to change - the way people view technology, together with inspiring the next generation."

For more information about BreedELITE's sheep software, smart drafter, smart reader, fleece weigh or to get a sheep technology audit, call (08) 8382 4565, email admin@breedelite.com or visit the BreedELITE website.