Kevin Coffey, cattle farmer and Head of Smart Farming for Datamars Livestock shares his views on the need to continue accelerating sustainable livestock production for the benefit of us all ahead of Earth Day 2023.

Regardless of where you’re based in the world, global attention falls firmly on our collective home – earth – on Saturday, 22 April, with the 53rd celebration of Earth Day.

The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Invest in our Planet’ with organisers calling on businesses, government, and communities to do more to create a healthier planet for current and future generations.

From my perspective true sustainability is about healthy environments, healthy animals, and healthy people. Earth Day presents us with an opportunity to consider what we are doing individually to reduce our impact, from our mode of transport to what we are buying, the ways we are looking after each other, as well how Datamars as a business can further accelerate sustainable livestock production.

For Datamars Livestock, and my smart farming team, this means enabling traceability on-farm and across markets, measurably improving farmers’ ability to produce high quality food and deliver solutions that make their lives easier, in a more sustainable way for the environment and for farming in general.

As a farmer myself of beef heifers on a rotational grazing system in Ireland, I personally see and understand the pressures farmers are under to ‘produce more with less’.

From my perspective, sustainability encompasses a three-pronged approach of a reduced carbon footprint, animal welfare and work/life balance for farmers.

The wonderful thing is there is incredibly positive synergies between sustainability and productivity when approached in a sustainable way – essentially, a way that focuses on ensuring what you do today results in good things tomorrow and for generations to come. We know that animals will thrive when they are comfortable in their environment. And its hugely rewarding to regularly see how Datamars is helping farmers make informed and strategic decisions in their businesses, to enable animals to thrive. Our products and solutions are also enabling farmers to be profitable and sustainable as a business in today’s competitive world.

For example, our Tru-Test Active Tags are helping farmers with early detection of heat and health issues in their dairy herds which could otherwise be devastating.

Precious time can be unnecessarily spent worrying about animal health issues, the risk of onward spread to other cows, the cost of treatment or antibiotics, and potential animal mortality.

Just one health issue for example can incur an average cost of more than 250 Euros to a farmer for one cow, not to mention the animal welfare impact, the cost of feeding the cow to adult and lost milk production.

By using Datamars Livestock software, farmers are better able to identify which cows to check, and when, regardless of the type of disease, and act earlier. Our farmers can relax knowing that Active Tag is actively watching their animals to give them the best opportunity to thrive.

This also means the farmer can better manage scarce resources like feed and water by reducing the extra replacement stock numbers that would normally be kept to maintain the herd size in case of these issues. Less replacement stock creates the knock-on effect of improved profitability whilst reduces carbon production and maintaining a better work/life balance with less stock to manage. A true synergy for environmental, animal, and personal wellbeing.

These benefits, combined with other improvements farmers are making, are contributing towards a more sustainable livestock production environment that is ultimately kinder on us all.

As the world population grows, and the need for high quality food increases, we need to make better use of the land available. We don’t want to create more land through deforestation. We need to focus on improving the lives of animals and growing crops as the enablers to help us do that. That may mean a reduction in replacement stock or optimizing feeding by giving the right animals the right amount of food for their weight and production.

For me sustainable agriculture is about finding efficiencies in farming and being part of the global conversation, and action, around the environmental, social and governance responsibilities that come naturally to farmers as stewards of the land. There’s great work already being done, but of course plenty of room to improve further. It’s an exciting conversation and one I am looking forward to taking part in this Earth Day.

Kevin Coffey