Head Shepherd

Unlocking the Secrets of Farm Optimisation with John Young

May 08, 2023 John Young Season 2023 Episode 131
Unlocking the Secrets of Farm Optimisation with John Young
Head Shepherd
More Info
Head Shepherd
Unlocking the Secrets of Farm Optimisation with John Young
May 08, 2023 Season 2023 Episode 131
John Young

Send us a Text Message.

Are you optimising your farm's production? Today we have John Young, aka Youngy, on the podcast. There are so many ways to optimise your farming business and sometimes that can be overwhelming. John, however, makes it all sound very understandable and achievable.

John's background is in farming but he now runs a systems analysis service.  Farm Systems Analysis Service has been involved in the development of AFO (Australian Farm Optimisation model). John gives us a rundown of what AFO is.

"AFO is a bio-economic model aimed at how best to allocate your resources to achieve your objective. What that actually means, when you apply it to a farm is trying to improve your on-farm decisions. So how you allocate your time, feed, and paddocks to try and achieve your goals."

The strength of the models is that they have an economic focus and a management focus. The weakness of the model, or the "challenges" as John thinks of them, is the challenge of how to represent biology well. And this has been the focus of John's career.

"The other sort of weakness," John says,  "Is that it only represents one type of year. My son, Michael has just about finished his PhD and one of the things he has incorporated is seasonal variation- or 'Weather-Year' variation as he calls it- to differentiate the variation from summer to winter, from this year to last year to next year. That addressed one of the major weaknesses in the model."

You can find out more about Michael's research here https://youngsfarmanalysis.com.au/research/

Mark and John run through the outcomes of some of the analysis John has been involved with. From fibre diameter and improving weaning percentages to the value of saving a single lamb or the economic value of ASBVS based on an individual business's current status. 

Currently industry indexes mostly assume that a farm system is a multiplication of an individual animal's performance. It also mostly assumes each trait has an economic value on a linear scale. John explains how that isn't always the case.

"The value of increasing litter size is much higher if your current litter size is 1.2 vs someone whose current litter size is 1.8. One is adding a few more twins, the other is adding more triplets." He explains. "So we know that the relative economic values vary. If we can make allowances for that, we can work within the bounds of what's required to make a good index."

"Coming up with the relative economic values is not a simple task, it's a little bit like the value of an extra lamb. There's a simple answer that's quite often wrong and then there's the more complicated answer."

Mark describes John as "The smartest person I know" and after listening to this podcast, you'll probably agree. 

We'd love to know what you think of


Head Shepherd is brought to you by neXtgen Agri International Limited, we help livestock farmers get the most out of the genetics they farm with. Get in touch with us if you would like to hear more about how we can help you do what you do best - info@nextgenagri.com.

Thanks to our sponsors at MSD Animal Health and Allflex, and Heiniger Australia and New Zealand.

These companies are leaders in their respective fields and it is a privilege to have them supporting the Head Shepherd Podcast. Please consider them when making product choices, as they are instrumental in enabling us to bring you this podcast each week.

Check out Heiniger's product range HERE
Check out the MSD range HERE
Check out Allflex products HERE

Show Notes

Send us a Text Message.

Are you optimising your farm's production? Today we have John Young, aka Youngy, on the podcast. There are so many ways to optimise your farming business and sometimes that can be overwhelming. John, however, makes it all sound very understandable and achievable.

John's background is in farming but he now runs a systems analysis service.  Farm Systems Analysis Service has been involved in the development of AFO (Australian Farm Optimisation model). John gives us a rundown of what AFO is.

"AFO is a bio-economic model aimed at how best to allocate your resources to achieve your objective. What that actually means, when you apply it to a farm is trying to improve your on-farm decisions. So how you allocate your time, feed, and paddocks to try and achieve your goals."

The strength of the models is that they have an economic focus and a management focus. The weakness of the model, or the "challenges" as John thinks of them, is the challenge of how to represent biology well. And this has been the focus of John's career.

"The other sort of weakness," John says,  "Is that it only represents one type of year. My son, Michael has just about finished his PhD and one of the things he has incorporated is seasonal variation- or 'Weather-Year' variation as he calls it- to differentiate the variation from summer to winter, from this year to last year to next year. That addressed one of the major weaknesses in the model."

You can find out more about Michael's research here https://youngsfarmanalysis.com.au/research/

Mark and John run through the outcomes of some of the analysis John has been involved with. From fibre diameter and improving weaning percentages to the value of saving a single lamb or the economic value of ASBVS based on an individual business's current status. 

Currently industry indexes mostly assume that a farm system is a multiplication of an individual animal's performance. It also mostly assumes each trait has an economic value on a linear scale. John explains how that isn't always the case.

"The value of increasing litter size is much higher if your current litter size is 1.2 vs someone whose current litter size is 1.8. One is adding a few more twins, the other is adding more triplets." He explains. "So we know that the relative economic values vary. If we can make allowances for that, we can work within the bounds of what's required to make a good index."

"Coming up with the relative economic values is not a simple task, it's a little bit like the value of an extra lamb. There's a simple answer that's quite often wrong and then there's the more complicated answer."

Mark describes John as "The smartest person I know" and after listening to this podcast, you'll probably agree. 

We'd love to know what you think of


Head Shepherd is brought to you by neXtgen Agri International Limited, we help livestock farmers get the most out of the genetics they farm with. Get in touch with us if you would like to hear more about how we can help you do what you do best - info@nextgenagri.com.

Thanks to our sponsors at MSD Animal Health and Allflex, and Heiniger Australia and New Zealand.

These companies are leaders in their respective fields and it is a privilege to have them supporting the Head Shepherd Podcast. Please consider them when making product choices, as they are instrumental in enabling us to bring you this podcast each week.

Check out Heiniger's product range HERE
Check out the MSD range HERE
Check out Allflex products HERE