The Perfect 10?

The Perfect 10?


Perfect 10?

Fact or Fiction

The Perfect 10?

During the years of the ClassiMate App development, which required

1.    First to produce the concept, then

2.    the scope, then

3.    the prototype and now a

4.    working platform.

I have had many hours to consider the un-anticipated uses of the application when put in the hands of a growing user base.

Obviously, in any robust business case, you consider the potential for the misuse of the tools for commercial gains and for which we have incorporated features to combat such occurrences.

These occurrences have existed long before ClassiMate and will exist long after ClassiMate. But, at least by using ClassiMate a substantial light shines on the shadows and the Structural data offers complete transparency.

Since the platforms release and a dramatic uptake of Structural Assessment (with now well over 5000 Cattle, Sheep and Goats assessed) I have witnessed something that hadn’t occurred to me in all my hours of contemplation.

Yes! It is around the Perfect ClassiMate (CM) score of 10. But it’s not what you think!

Throughout the 1000’s of Assessments (both Self Assessed or Independently Classified) a very limited number have secured the statute of ‘a perfect 10’. In my mind there are two types of animals that score perfect CM 10’s in the system.

1.    Animals that by any reasonable observer’s opinion and from its photo – is a highly credible CM 10.

2.    Animals that obviously have faults that are clearly visible in the photo and the breeder has provided an inaccurate assessment either through misuse of the platform or (more likely) through simply not being able to identify slight faults. Perfectly understandable given the variety experience amongst ClassiMate users. The result here is a slightly diminished level of confidence in the credibility of assessments in the eyes of potential buyers across the catalogue.

It’s the first example that my observations relate too.

Its only through seeing literally 1000’s of Independent and Breeder assessments from all calibres of confidence levels and across a multitude of breeds – that I have had an unexpected epiphany.

When reviewed by an independent observer and compared against a catalogue of identically assessed animals, a CM 9.75 (for example) is far more credible and enticing for a buyer to act on then a CM 10!

Let me explain further!

Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer who is scrolling through comparable animal assessment data using photos and CM scores as their primary guide. It’s highly probable that when seeing a CM 10 (sometimes multiple 10’s) a buyer might initially roll their eyes with the assumption that it’s unlikely that the animal is actually a CM 10 and more likely that the assessor has missed key trait features.

When the same breeder scrolls to an animal photo that catches their eye and a score of 8.5, 9.3 or 9.7 (or anything similar) the buyer is instantly reassured that a thorough assessment has been done on this clearly elite animal and the assessor has very critically “slightly” downgraded subtle faults. That’s where buyer confidence is born.

Of course, there are animals that are legitimate 10’s and an assessor should have the confidence to award them as such when they see it- but it’s in the assessment of the rest of the draft that the assessor develops the credibility in the eye of an independent observer.

Do perfect CM 10’s exist?

Yes- of course they do. But they always deserve another look, a more critical assessment will always win favour in the marketplace.

Visual Assessment or Objective Measurement?

Visual Assessment or Objective Measurement?

Visual assessment or objective measurent?

Notebook or Note book?

When it comes to breed development, this is the mother of all unanswered questions! 

You could draw a line down the middle of both camps and my guess is that you would find pretty equally divided schools of thoughts on this issue. And with good reason- both are extremely valid breed selection tools and both stir passionate debate amongst their advocates.


The staunchest supporters of objective measurements have a good number of years of EBV (Estimated Breeding Values) behind them now and can and will talk to you for as long as you will listen about the intricacies of trait comparisons and indexes and their usefulness’s in advancing the standard of their stock. They won’t get an augment from me!


I have repeatedly witnessed the visual improvement of particular bloodlines from years of select breeding based on objectively measured performance data. Their growth rates are better, their carcass qualities improve and they certainly look to have better meat coverage. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen the pursuit of these ideals come at the expense of breed quality and structural correctness. Where’s the measurement of that?


Now I am not bold enough to suggest that objective measurements are the sole reason for these advancements in any breed. There are as many examples of individual animals that have shown no improvement that looks amazing on paper. This leads the breeder to reflect on other contributing factors. Perhaps particular objective measurements reflect positively on an animal’s genetic makeup simply because there is more data associated with one bloodline over the next. Most frequently environmental factors are to blame, which is, of course, the entire usefulness of objective measurements but can test the resolve of a breeder.


Perhaps I have been focusing on the wrong indexes for my purposes, or put too much emphasis on one over the other.’


Do you stick with what you are doing at the expense of phenotypically appealing stock or do I change course to achieve satisfactory gains in my breed development?


Then there is the other camp that operates out of a pocketbook. Visually assessing bloodlines over generations of breeding with nothing more than a trained eye and an “asterisk” in my notebook. Using the poorly developed sire at the back of the mob because they have seen example after example that his lineage produces the desired trait that they chase the hardest.


I’ll ignore the obvious risks of not using the biggest, fattest, impressive sire, cause I know he’s always first to the feed bin and he looks better then has the right too- I’ve seen his breeding and I know it backwards. He’s the one that will top the next sale, but he wont breed my next top sire.’


Why are these two schools of thought at such opposing odds?


I guess every breeder that has exposed themselves to the vast array of breeding tools has had their moment of epiphany. All too often the animal with the most outstanding EBV’s is the rangiest, ugliest looking creature on the farm. And much like the breeder that relies on his notebook and visual assessment – the objective measurement junkie also has to draw his line in the sand.


Do I chase the perfect objective measurement and use the ugliest animal against my better urges, or do I follow my visual preferences and breed the type of stock that I like the look of. It starts as simply as a mating choice, but what this has amounted too is a defining breeding methodology. ‘I select heavily on object measurements’, or ‘I select on visual characteristics’. Never the twain shall meet!


Now to achieve visually impressive animals with amazing EBV’s is, of course, possible, but requires a deliberate and structured breeding program. A judge whom I admire very much once told me, “Breeding is like making a nice coffee blend if you want to add a little bit of bitterness you need to add a lot.” That has stuck with me and all too often I have found that using the longest sire on the farm has a small effect on his progeny. Once that is understood, a breed plan that spans for many years can be formed to tailor the right visual type animal with EBV’s that will impress the biggest advocate of any measure. Such a program requires the use of apposing measures to ensure and ultimate balance and requires compromise from the breeders with a firm eye on the end result.


So in my mind- for me it’s never been the support of one tool over the other that’s been the debate. But why not harness the usefulness of both?


This conclusion was the basis for the decision to include visual assessment data and objective measurement data on the ClassiMate web application. At the risk of providing too much information for purchases to make decisions, those who embrace both camps have the world at their feet.


Where do you stand?

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Re-Brand your Brand

Re-Brand your Brand

Re- Brand your brand.

Take control of your livestock marketing

Re-Brand your brand.

10 ways to effective livestock marketing.

Marketing livestock isn’t like it used to be. The evolution of the Internet has leveled the playing field for primary producers globally.

Sourcing the next elite sire is no longer limited to what’s available at the up coming On Farm Sale, or through a call to your local livestock agent – it is now a global search.

With acceptance of this comes the reality that your genetics are competing on the same stage as the world’s most established livestock producers – but it also comes with the reality that you can present yourself as a viable prospect amongst the worlds buyers opening avenues for semen, embryo and live animal sales that are above your own expectations.

1) Get your online house in order.

Your online presence is your new shop window. The days of buyers traveling to see you are over. Their first port of call is an online search. Whether it be your stud website, or an online profile, the impression they gauge from your online presence is equal in measure to the impression a buyer has when he drives up your driveway. Do I want to do business with these people?

What you offer and the client’s expectations have started to form.

2) Photographs are everything.

Who ever said a picture is worth 1000 words – underestimated them by the 10’s of thousands!

Good quality photos of your stock can build a reputation for your breeding that goes far beyond your traditional marketplace and achieve global exposure.

There is a population of millions of agricultural faithful that share, tweet, poke and like on social media. This can be your greatest asset or your biggest curse – you instantly loose control of content online, so put your (very) best foot forward.

I never fail to cringe when a breeder tells me ‘ I have a good camera, I’ll take the pictures’. To a professional livestock photographer that is equivalent to hearing ‘I have a trowel, I’ll build the house myself’. In every occasion that is an opportunity lost to present yourself properly.

This is not the place to cut corners. Market opportunities have changed and this is a necessary undertaking to leverage online opportunities. Use professional photographers – the value the pictures will give you will far outlast the lifespan of the animal in the picture.

3) Position yourself

Develop a clear understanding of what your breeding philosophy is. In most cases, that’s your point of difference.

You need to articulate this clearly and simply to the market place. Remember with global reach come diverse cultural difference many of which are not English speaking. So you need to demonstrate your message visually and consistently. All your outgoing material should re-enforce your philosophies.

This will also determine how your stock is managed and presented to the public and in what condition.

Align your management inputs to the marketplace expectations of you. Nothing confuses and disappoints a marketplace more than overfed, trimmed and pampered livestock available for commercial purposes. Keep your message constant.

“We breed small numbers of elite genetics”, “we are a large scale commercial breeding facility with 1000’s of animals to choose from”, “we breed show winners” or perhaps our location/health status is your key point of difference?

Embrace it, practice it and re-enforce it.

4) It all starts with a logo

Your logo is the visual reference that a buyer will associate with all your material. Marketing without a logo is a wasted opportunity.

Your logo will begin to paint the picture of your studs focus. It will then become associated with your level of quality and your place in the market. The logo is the stamp in which your entire efforts stand behind. This isn’t an opportunity to whip something up in a word doc. Think carefully about what you want it to say about your enterprise and seek professional input – it will be with you for a long time, it will pay for itself repeatedly.

5) Your livestock is your business card

Understand the clients requirements and supply stock that you are confident meets their requirements. Remember, that animals ear tag and progeny associates itself with your stud, long after the cheque has cleared. Many sets of eyes will appraise the animal over time. Will the quality of the animal, the price paid and the value that the animal brings, stand up to third party scrutiny?

Each animal is your business card and will represent you (positively or negatively).

6) Build a network

I have never met anyone who got rich from selling livestock in a single transaction.

Agriculture is the longest of all long-term commitments.

You need to sell to your clients this year, next year and the year after that. Forget a good business. To build a great business they need to bring a friend every year also.

Follow-ups and ongoing support go along way to establishing long lasting relationships (not just at sale time).

Of course part of this is determining the clients that will never be properly appeased and are a distraction from you spending time on the relationships that will matter most. Some clients are better off referred elsewhere.

7) Knock down obstacles to purchase’s

Make it easy for clients to buy from you. Chances are that if you have been contacted via online means, they have contacted many others. Initial contact demonstrates that you have appealed to the buyer and they are interested in the prospects of working with you.

Make their purchase decisions easy by providing them with enough information to make a decision. A timely and professional response will place you at the top of their list of prospects.

Note – there is a balance to providing enough information to assess alternatives and too much which will confuse a buyer. Information, which is not pertinent to a purchase decisions, is not relevant at this point.

  • Provide breeding records (Sires, Dams, Progeny)
  • Have your stock ClassiMate assessed- a third party appraisal of your stock changes the dynamic from them accepting your appraisal to feeling secure that an expert has made an appraisal- this removes any element of doubt and begins to build long-term, working, relationships.
  • Objective measurements- these are vital ingredients in a decision for some buyers, consider if objective measurements are required to compliment your breeding philosophy.
  • High quality photos/ Videos
    • This is often where the decisions are made in your favour or otherwise. And usually where you wished you hadn’t ignored point 2 and engaged a professional photographer!

Frequently the hassle of accumulating this data, at the end of a long day, for each inquiry leads to days or weeks before a response is sent. This makes you look like you don’t have your ‘ducks in a row’.

By uploading all this information into the ClassiMate network, you can send a link of the suggested animals to the buyer and provide complete information in a professional, palatable format.

8) You are your product.

Have you ever walked out of a shop due to an attendant’s attitude?

There is no greater shame than missing out on a sale opportunity because you didn’t leave the client with the best impression of you! They are not only interested in buying your stock; they are interested in an association with you.

These people are not ‘lucky to have your attention’. Be professional, courteous and approachable in your correspondence, or give the task to someone who can be- it’s too important.

If you have had a big day at the yards arrange an opportunity to speak when you are in a more helpful frame of mind.

9) Think about next year

Selling breeding stock to clients gives a great opportunity to provide follow-up genetics in preceding years. If they have used your genetics and you feel your breeding has since progressed – touch base with the buyer, ask how the last purchased worked out for them. Chances are they have had the same results as you and you and that can lead to an opportunity to provide some additional genetics that can form a breeding plan over many years.

Their feedback amounts to your market research, always seek it. This might lead to an evaluation of the package you are offering, or how effectively you are delivering it.

10) Always think of your clients.

It’s amazing what effect this can have on the reinforcement of a purchase decision. In addition it can build a relationship that will sustain any ‘bumpy ground’ you might have in your dealings.

  • Pass opportunities to clients that they might benefit from
  • Personally share correspondence/articles or information that might be of particular interest to them
  • Value your client’s role in your success and make sure they feel appreciated.

These efforts cost you nothing and will lead to long-lasting relationships and longer lasting friendships.