Web-based app to improve deer fertility

AbacusBio's web-based app helps deer farmers to set & monitor the liveweights of replacement hinds

People involved in this project

Low reproduction rates in poorly-grown rising 2-year-old (R2) hinds are a lost opportunity for deer farmers. The P2P app is designed to support farmers to take better control of deer growth and maximise reproduction rates.

The web-based tool was created by AbacusBio science consultants Jason Archer and Nicola Dennis, and IT consultant Mark Teviotdale and will help deer farmers to set and monitor the liveweights of replacement hinds, with the objective of improving R2 hind fertility.

Bodyweight is widely known to influence the pregnancy rates of R2 hinds. R2 hinds have to reach target liveweights to enter puberty and start cycling. Using curves relating pregnancy to body weight at mating (based on data from over 20,000 R2 hinds), the app can calculate mating liveweight targets for replacement hinds.

The calculations are based on information inputs from farmers, such as birth year of hinds and the average mature hind weight of their breeding herds. Farmers would be able to adjust the target mob average until the desired conception rate is reached. Based on the growth curves generated for mating targets, farmers could then customise the curves based on their varying needs.

“These growth curves provide predictions of growth to better meet target liveweights for young deer,” Jason says. The tool also allows mob average weights to be plotted on the predicted growth path needed to achieve pre-set pregnancy rates so that farmers can check to see that they are on track to achieve targets. Printed versions of the curves can also be downloaded.

This tool was initially developed as a MS Excel spreadsheet, but once the concept was developed it became obvious that it was much better to deliver it as a webbased tool. By hooking a sophisticated statistical programming language into a web-interface, a whole new set of possibilities was created.

“We’re really excited about what this new software approach has to offer in terms of ease and versatility,” Nicola adds.

“We’re keen to explore how we can work with our valued clients to create new tools for their business or customers. It’s so flexible, we can use it to create anything from very simple calculators to sophisticated tools based on live data.”

The tool can be accessed from the Deer Industry New Zealand’s “Deer Hub” at www.deernz.org.nz