Helen Glass reports on the recent SEFARI Livestock Safari Trip

Following on from the successful SEFARI ‘safari’ looking at our arable co-ops earlier this year, we arranged a second, livestock-focussed programme.

SEFARI selected a group of enthusiastic representatives from the James Hutton, the Moredun, the Rowett and from EPIC – a collective of inquisitive minds, all experts in their fields, passionate about knowledge exchange with the agri sector and their supply chains – and all driven to engage with our agri coops.

From left to right: Prof Dominic Mellor (EPIC), Julia Mitchell (Rowett), David Miller (JHI), Jim Booth, Oor Wullie, Prof lorna Dawson (JHI), Philip Skuce (Moredun), Charles Bestwick (SEFARI) and Helen Glass.

The tour started at ANM’s Thainstone operations and SAOS’s Jim Booth explaining to the group the role and breadth of activities that our livestock co-ops play, highlighted with insight from ANM’s Farm Profit Programme. Grant Rogerson provided first hand insight into ANM’s strategy and activities over lunch fielding questions from our visitors who were clearly thinking about future co-operation opportunities. A quick photo opportunity with ‘Wullie’ reinforced once of the governing principles of co-operatives – that of community.

Next stop was Huntly, where Josie Forth, ScotEID’s Office Manager, explained the livestock traceablily system. There was great interest from the group recognising the power of data to inform decion making and the vital role that ScotEID plays for the Scottish livestock sector. Andy McGowan later joined the group to talk about Scottish Pig Producers’ services and operations, and to explain about their commitment and investment in innovation programmes where data analytics are central to the efficiency of the producers.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the tour and who spoke to the group. It was another hugely successful day and SAOS will continue discussions with SEFARI keeping the doors open for further knowledge exchange. It was clear from their comments that the day gave a really valuable insight into our co-ops and the numerous possibilities for working together.

Prof Lorna Dawson (James Hutton) commented: “We at SEFARI were delighted to be invited to meet with varied members of Scottish livestock co-ops – ANM was a wonderful meeting place, spotlessly clean, high welfare considerations and very well managed – and an excellent example of business diversification. ScotEID was inspiring in its data handling – with great potential for SEFARI and EPIC to collaborate further on the interpretation of such big data. And we saw such a shining example at Scottish Pig Producers  of innovation and welfare considerations. The day was packed with opportunities for further cooperation and collaboration with the experts at SAOS.”

David Miller (James Hutton) noted: “The visit with a focus on livestock has once again opened lines of communication and opportunity with the industry, which would be a lot more challenging without the facilitation of SAOS.”

Philip Skuce of the Moredun told us: “It was very interesting to hear about the range and number of Scottish Agri Co-ops there are, their diversity in operations and how they operate. I was also very impressed by the facilities at Thainstone Mart and to get to see behind the scenes! Also, from a livestock perspective, it was very interesting to visit ScotEID and get an insight into livestock movement recording and the value of big data! I/we look forward to working more closely with SAOS in the future.”