Digitising the beef sector to reduce emissions

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Farmers can record everything they need to know about their animals on the phone app and then analyse that data to improve efficiencies and sustainability. Image: Breedr
Farmers can record everything they need to know about their animals on the phone app and then analyse that data to improve efficiencies and sustainability. Image: Breedr

Related tags Farm Farmer Farmers digital Beef

Fintech app Breedr wants to ‘put data at the heart of farming’ to make the beef supply chain more efficient and improve farmers’ profits and environmental footprints.

A free herd management app for farmers is celebrating raising £12 million.

Breedr enables farmers to improve their livestock productivity, welfare and herd efficiency by tracking metrics such as weight, genetics, health and medication. Capturing this data can allow farmers to more easily improve their livestock productivity, sustainability and efficiency. All vital, the company insisted, as the livestock industry looks to overcome scrutiny over its environmental impact.

Breedr was founded by Ian Wheal in 2019, who grew up on a farm in Australia, with the aim of revolutionising “outdated and inefficient agricultural practices by moving to individual animal management”.

Via the free app and platform, farmers can record everything they need to know about their animals on their phone or laptop. Farmers on the platform can additionally buy and sell cattle via the Breedr Marketplace, with over 6,000 animals worth £4.5 million having been traded since January 2021.

Breedr claims it has helped over 1,100 UK farmers transform their businesses through free and easy data analysis of more than 160,000 registered animals.  

The new £12 million funding round will be used to develop the launch of a new product: Breedr Impact, a data-driven financial product for livestock farmers. Breedr Impact enables farmers to leverage the asset classes on their farms to 'make smarter investments for the future'. 

Building fintech products for farmers

Farmers often face restricted access to finance. This is a concern for livestock producers in particular (33%) and smaller farmers (under 25%), revealed a survey by SME lender Propel. Fears about finances were also cited as one of the main causes of stress for farmers in the UK. The removal of EU farming subsidies is adding to this which can make up to 90% of a farm’s income.

This lack of cash flow is holding them back from making investments into their operations, according to Breedr, such as introducing sustainable practices or improving practices that would make them, and the overall supply chain, better off in the long term.

Yet, at the same time, farmers have an underleveraged asset class sitting on their farm that they can use as a cash flow product: their livestock. 

Breedr Impact will therefore allow farmers to release cash from their livestock in order to invest in expanding their business. In early trials, Breedr claimed this innovative contract has created strong returns for farmers and investors, allowing the recipient farmers to grow their operations and invest in changes so they are more resilient in the future.

Making agriculture more sustainable and successful

Enabling farmers to understand everything about their livestock doesn’t just allow them to borrow against the animals but also make the right changes to become more sustainable and efficient, noted Breedr. With livestock emissions making up around 15% of all human-made emissions globally each year and demand for meat consumption not going to go away, creating a more sustainable and efficient supply chain is necessary to slow the rate of global warming, Breedr said.  

Healthier animals grow faster and emit fewer methane emissions over their life. Breedr therefore guides the farmers on its platform to make improvements, from changing the location where the animals graze, to adjusting their food and medication. To date, farmers using Breedr have cut their emissions by 17% on average. As well, they are preparing animals for the sale cycle more efficiently as the data gathered by the app confirms to farmers when stock is in peak condition, enabling them to take them to market more quickly. This efficiency prevents farmers from feeding out two tonnes of food compared to the average – saving more than 800kg of carbon per head. 

“We have created Breedr to put data at the heart of farming,” ​said Ian Wheal, founder and CEO at Breedr. “By enabling farmers to grow healthier animals, we’re transforming the industry: allowing farmers to use their animals to make investments in their farms, improve trading and provide more transparency to the supply chain - which is sorely needed in this under-invested industry.

“We’re seeing the positive impact this is having already in the UK on helping to decrease methane emissions and improve cash flow for farmers.” 

Overall, Breedr’s top farmers are producing beef with 28% less carbon footprint than the industry average, the company claimed. It added that Breedr Impact can also provide better rates to farmers who are more environmentally friendly as this ensures the animals are healthier for sale - creating a positive circular impact for farmers and the wider supply chain. 

“The agriculture industry worldwide is crying out for disruption of the kind being created by Breedr,”​ added Remus Brett, general partner at LocalGlobe, an investor in the app.

“Not just for the sake of the farmers and their supply chains, but for the sake of the planet and consumers. There is huge potential for Ian and his team at Breedr to completely revolutionise how we think about livestock and meat consumption in a way that benefits everyone and the success of its recent fundraise and crowdfunding campaign is testament to just how impactful it has become.”

According to Oliver Hogg, CEO at Investbridge Capital, another investor: “Breedr has built a truly innovative platform that is solving issues across the agrifood industry, from delivering key insights to farmers to help improve the care and growth of their animals, to its transformative cash-flow product, to providing transparency across the supply chain to meet the needs of retailers and consumers.”​  

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