Ask Bill expansion planned

Ask Bill expansion planned


Sheep management tool Ask Bill would soon to expanded to include individual flock information, a Melbourne conference has been told.

The new sheep management tool, Ask Bill, would soon be expanded to include individual flock information, Sheep CRC chief executive Professor James Rowe has told a Melbourne conference.


Prof Rowe was speaking at the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) ‘Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture” conference.

“By November, we want to customise it, so your flock isn’t just the average flock, its got the genetics for your flock,” Prof Rowe said.

“Ask Bill gives us a very powerful framework to start building the new information and algorithims that gives us predictability of a system that has been very, very hard to manage.”

Progams such as Ram Select would be used to further drive Ask Bill, to the next level.

“There is no scratching your head, thinking you have this batch of genetics, in the flock,” he said.

Other improvements included prediction of intramuscular fat, and wool.

“We are starting to interact more proactively with our supply chain partners, the processors, so we can share information, in terms of the growth rates,” he said.

“We are getting the genetics we have in our flock, and when they are ready for despatch.”

He said, in terms of prediction, Ask Bill would turn out “to be one of your best mates.

“Climatic data, on its own, is not very predictive, weighing animals is not very predictive, you know what they are going to weigh today, but you don’t know what they are going to weigh tomorrow.”

Ask Bill used data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to do the “grunt work” for the farmer.

“It provides you with a set of biophysical models, we know the relationship between rainfall and soil moisture, we know the relationship between temperature, humitidy and lifecycle of flies and worms,” Professor Rowe said.

“These biophysical models are updated, for your farm, every day.”

It was also simple for the end user, and not just data.

“It’s not only a question of whether it’s been wet or hot, it’s the susceptibility of your animals to flies.

“What it sends you on your phone, tablet or computer, is an alert.

“It doesn’t tell you what to do, it’s a mate, it just taps you on the shoulder and says, you might not be aware, in a couple of month’s time, you might not be where you want to be, so watch this space.”

Ask Bill could be used to make money, through better management.

“Once you have this platform up, the improvements are quick,” Prof Rowe said.

“By being able to look three months ahead, you are going to get your stocking rates, and your supplementary feed purchase on time.

“You are going to reduce lamb and weaner fatalities, you are really going to control chemical use for fly and worms.”

Professor James Rowe, Sheep CRC chief executive.

Professor James Rowe, Sheep CRC chief executive.


From the front page

Sponsored by