Patrick and Elaine Rafferty have been with Practical Systems from the very beginning.
For 25 years the Raffertys have utilised Cashbook, and then Stockbook, for their financial and individual animal recording and reporting.
The family-run a self-replacing Angus herd at ‘Garrawildi’ outside of Guyra.
Cashbook was also used by Elaine Rafferty to run her pharmacy business in Armidale before it was sold in 2000.
Technology has played a part at Garrawildi for over two decades, and Patrick’s daughter, Luci, said it is an essential part of the business.
“Dad has always embraced technology, despite his age,” Luci said. “Cashbook and Stockbook provide an effective way to run a livestock business.”
Technology also provides a way for the entire family to get involved.
“I like the fact that Practical Systems doesn’t over complicate things, you can set it up quickly and get on with the job,” Luci said. “Dad is 88 and he is often in the cattle yards with us on the computer. I have also had 12-year-olds using it. Practical Systems has a good, practical platform that is easy to use and can collect useful data. “
Practical Systems may provide an efficient data collection platform, but it also gives confidence in the integrity of the data it collects.
“Integrity of data has become critical in the beef industry,” Luci said. “Say you weighed a load of feeder steers that you were about to send to market. With Stockbook, you can download the data the day you’ve weighed them, you have a record, then you can send the same report to your agents, and they know what is going to market. It also helps you to assess curfew weights.”
The Raffertys are EU-accredited and often sell into markets with strict criteria. Using Stockbook not only allows the Raffertys to show a detailed report of each animal’s life, but they can also add their own safety mechanisms to avoid selling an animal that should be excluded.
“If you are selling into a market that requires antibiotic-free animals, for instance. I use the highlight function to make sure we know we have treated an animal with an antibiotic for a foot abscess, or something like that, and we can’t sell into that market,” Luci said.
“That helps with management and minimises the risk of sending an animal, that doesn’t meet strict criteria, into the wrong markets. Even if we didn’t highlight the animals in Stockbook when they were treated, we have the ability to search the history of each animal to find out what treatments they have received and any withholding periods.”
Luci said using Cashbook and Stockbook helped external organisations develop trust in the integrity of their data.
“Stockbook makes the process quicker and easier, and there’s more veracity behind the data,” Luci said. “From the time we mark the calves to the time we sell, we know what has happened to that animal, what paddocks it has been in, what treatments it had and everything else that has happened in its life.
“We can work out what it has cost us to treat the animal. I would like to think that ultimately we will be rewarded for that in some of those markets.”
The Raffertys were involved in the initial beta testing stage of Cashbook and helped to shape the application for use by primary producers and small business owners.
“Dad was always a fan of using Cashbook in running the farm. When Practical Systems released Stockbook it was a logical next step for our farm’s record keeping,” Luci said.
According to Luci, Cashbook made it very easy to prepare for year-end and deal with accountants. It also keeps extensive financial records.
“You can generate year-on-year comparisons; you can also get useful financial reports to track your expenses and cashflow. It is a great tool that allows you to know how you are travelling through the year and from a historical perspective,” she said.
The Raffertys use Trutest Scales connected to a laptop running Stockbook Live Entry to collect data and record notes on each animal.
“It is easy to use Stockbook’s Live Entry in the cattle yards which gives you immediate, detailed records. You can add notes; you can record all your treatments. I think it saves time – particularly later in the office.”