Lamb Production

Sheep CRC explores supply chain value of ASKBILL and carcase tools

Sheep Central June 14, 2017

Sheep CRC chief executive officer James Rowe

USING the latest sheep health predictive technology and carcase assessment tools to meet processor and producer needs will be discussed during a Sheep CRC tour of South Australia this week.

The Sheep CRC said SA sheep industry representatives will review the opportunities for driving new practice changes in the sheep industry when board members visit the state this week.

The Sheep CRC will conduct a series of briefings with producer and industry representatives in Adelaide, before travelling to Bordertown to tour the JBS processing plant and discuss new supply chain innovations.

Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said an important topic for the Adelaide meeting will be the CRC’s new ASKBILL app that offers transformational opportunities for management of grazing operations to enhance sheep wellbeing and improve productivity.

“The web-based app incorporates farm data and climate information via a number of biophysical models to help assess future risks and opportunities and inform decisions on livestock management.

“Early feedback from users of ASKBILL and suggestions for improvements will be key topics for discussion,” Professor Rowe said.

Click here to get the latest Sheep Central story links sent to your email inbox.

ASKBILL and your flock’s bottomline

The web-based app,, had a limited release late last month prior to its full commercial release in November this year.

The app has been designed to draw on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and forecasts to provide estimates for individual farms of the risk of flystrike and parasite infection, likely pasture production, livestock nutritional requirements and feed budgets, and risks associated with extreme weather events.

Professor Rowe said ASKBILL has been designed to complement producers’ knowledge by providing real-time predictions of the future risks to the farming system.

“ASKBILL provides detailed data about your livestock and pastures, and predicts opportunities and threats to your individual business from the weather, pests or disease – the critical information needed for making more precise farming decisions, protecting the wellbeing of your flock and maximising its productivity.”

Professor Rowe said a key Sheep CRC focus has always been to improve the feedback from processors to producers so they can make practice change, increase carcase compliance and improve their bottom line.

“We expect that hot topics of conversation this week will be the use of DEXA technology at the JBS plant as a means of providing fast, accurate and objective carcase assessments, the role of the cuts-based carcase value calculator as well as the Sheep CRC’s new ASKBILL app which could assist both producers and the processing sector with scheduling and quality control.”

The carcase value calculator takes input values like GR tissue depth — measured accurately with a GR knife or other technology — and hot carcase weight to predict cut weight that, when multiplied by their value and summed, gives the carcase value. However, new measurement technologies like DEXA are also needed to accurately measuring traits such as intramuscular fat, eye muscle area and GR tissue depth to give true carcase composition.

SA trip about adapting technology to industry needs

Professor Rowe said the Sheep CRC board visit to South Australia is about providing its partners with an update on progress and gathering their feedback on how we can successfully adapt new technologies to their changing needs.

In delivering its sheepmeat research program, the Sheep CRC has worked closely with members of the Lamb Supply Chain Group established by the CRC about five years ago.

The group brings together retailers, processors, producers and breeders to map out priorities for the research and development program and the implementation of new products and information.

“The co-funding of a number of supply chain officers with leading processors has provided a way of embedding new innovation in real-world operating environments.

“As part of our ‘Quality-based sheepmeat value chains program’, the CRC and its partners have also been working towards a cuts-based MSA grading system to provide more market options for sheep meat in order to achieve better alignment of our products with customer demands and appropriate rewards for producers investing in superior genetics for eating quality traits,” he said.

The CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation is co-funded under the Commonwealth Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program

“A key focus has always been to improve the feedback from processors to producers so they can make practice change, increase carcase compliance and improve their bottom line,” Professor Rowe said.

ASKBILL named after Gordon ‘Bill’ McClymont

Gordon ‘Bill’ McClymont

The ASKBILL app has been named in honour of Professor Gordon ‘Bill’ McClymont, who was the founding Dean of the University of New England’s Faculty of Rural Science. ‘Bill’ described the conceptual model of the agricultural ecosystem that provides a framework for analysing the complex interactions of the components that make up grazing systems.

“It’s only today that we have the computing power, machine learning and biosystems models to realise Bill McClymont’s visionary concept – the result for producers is that ASKBILL can predict future events and analyse ‘what if’ scenarios, putting them in a position of power to prevent, rather than react to, risks to their business,” Professor Rowe said.

“By entering farm and production data and monitoring the risk alerts, ASKBILL also allows producers and industry to validate the standards of care their animals have received.”

The predictive, ‘what-if’ and alert capabilities of ASKBILL will be useful to producers, consultants, farm management software providers, the meat and wool supply chains, resellers, suppliers of farm inputs, banks and insurers, all of whom need better information about the future impact of the unfolding seasonal conditions when making management and marketing decisions, Sheep CRC said.

ASKBILL has been released on a limited basis as a pre-commercialisation user trial at $50/user for six months, and will be required to provide feedback to the development team. A full commercial release of the product is scheduled for November 2017, with pricing and licencing structures to be confirmed.

Breeders, producers, processors and retailers will be able to access the app directly through online purchasing and there will be opportunities for consultants and reseller network to add their expertise to the power of ASKBILL.

More information is available at


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -