Tuesday, May 24, 2022
BusinessScots agritech company launches new sheep handling system

Scots agritech company launches new sheep handling system

COTTER Agritech announced the UK launch of its Cotter Crate system and SmartWorm app, a software and hardware solution to help sheep farmers cut labour costs.

It also assists in tackling worm resistance by reducing wormer used by up to 40% and identifying worm resistant/resilient replacements.

The Cotter Crate is a sheep handling crate that makes doing stock management tasks to both lambs and adult sheep quick, easy and safe, including dosing, vaccinating, tagging, dagging, weighing, mouthing, body condition scoring, and 3-way drafting.

Cotter Crate
The Cotter Crate is designed to make sheep and lamb handling easier for farmers and comfortable for animals.

Developed by sheep farming brothers Jack and Nick Cotter, the Cotter Crate was created after they recognised the industry’s need for a handling system that focuses on making lamb handling easier and also caters to adult sheep.

The result is a simple to use system where the animal is comfortably held under its own weight at operator height without any pressure being applied.

It results in a calm handling experience for both animal and operator and reduces animal handling time by up to 50%.

Launching alongside the Cotter Crate is SmartWorm, an advanced weighing and targeted selective treatment (TST) phone app that enables weight recording and treatment management.

The app enables farmers to conduct targeted selective worming based on its algorithm.

It can be used with the Cotter Crate, or with other sheep handling and weighing equipment already on-farm, to conduct targeted selective treatment.

The built-in worming algorithm enables a sheep farmer to reduce their use of wormers by up to 40% without a loss of animal performance by identifying in real-time which animals would benefit from a wormer treatment.

The algorithm calculates a lambs potential growth based on a number of factors and gives them an individual target, if they are not reaching this target, it recommends treating the animal.

cotter crate app
SmartWorm an advanced weighing and TST app is launching alongside the Cotter Crate with the aim of reducing the amount of wormer used.

Welsh farmer Rhidian Glyn, winner of New Entrant at the 2018 British Farming Awards, used the system in 2021 and reduced his wormer use by 38% with no loss of animal performance.

He explains, “Key for me in using this solution was that it fitted into the existing schedule of handling my lambs every 4 weeks.

“It worked very well – I saved some drench, it was much faster dosing the lambs because I don’t have to dose them all, and there was no loss of performance. It’s a no brainer.”

Well-known Irish farmer Brian Nicholson saw similar results in 2021 trials, achieving a reduction of 42% in wormer use, he said: “Not only did I use less wormer, but I’m now able to select replacements that require less worm treatments.

“Therefore, I expect the wormer reduction to get better because I can now breed sheep who are resistant and resilient to worms.

“I feel I’m making a huge contribution by farming in a gentler way and towards enhancing the biodiversity and soil health on my farm due to the significant reduction in the use of wormers.” 

Co-founder and CTO of Cotter Agritech Jack Cotter says for the average UK sheep flock a return on investment for the software solution is delivered within 12 months.

This, he says, is achieved through delivering a wormer and labour savings, breeding improvements, and preventing production losses by slowing resistance development on farms.

Controlling worms is one of the biggest challenges facing sheep farmers in the UK.

Modern worm control is becoming unsustainable due to resistance issues with anthelmintics (or wormers) on the majority of sheep farms in the UK, and negative environmental impacts.

Resistance is costing the UK sheep farming industry £84 million per year.

Jack explains: “Our hardware and software solution is the most practical, simplest and complete way of reducing wormer use on-farm.

“Farmers can now do TST in a manner which doesn’t slow them down. This solution unlocks this technology onto the sheep farming industry.”

His brother Nick added: “The trend is towards higher welfare and more nature-friendly farming, reduction of chemical use and protection of our biodiversity. And this delivers.

“It will help to preserve and strengthen the sustainability and profitability of British farmers and boost UK agriculture’s social licence.

“This is a win-win-win, for British farmers, for the British public and for the environment.”

Farmers who already have suitable weighing equipment to use the algorithm can download the SmartWorm app and avail of a 3-month free trial.

Cotter Agritech is exhibiting at the Lamma Show on May 4th-5th (Hall 7, Stand 7.986), and Balmoral Show (May 11th-14th) in Northern Ireland. 

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