Traceability Profile:
ElmCrest Farms

Traceability helps streamline to save time and improve decision making

Vincent Stutzki, Co-owner, ElmCrest Farms

Figure 1: Vincent Stutzki, Co-owner, ElmCrest Farms
Vincent and Heather Stutzki love their sheep farm and are passionate about providing Canadians with home-grown lamb for their tables. Together they have managed the business since they purchased their farm just outside Paisley. It was set up for cattle, but "Someone dropped off ten ewes and a ram, and the rest, as they say, is history," Vince laughs.

However, managing the information that accompanies a flock of 700 requires intensive physical labour and organization. "It's a big challenge managing our inventory. Each ewe lambs every eight months. The ewes are sorted into groups that drop at different times throughout the year so we can supply the packer with Ontario lamb every two weeks," says Vince.

ElmCrest Farms installed:

  • Racewell™ auto sorting handling system
  • Tru-Test 3000™ scale head
  • Gallagher™ RFID panel reader
  • Ewebyte ™ software
  • Agrident ™ hand held RFID reader
  • Psion™ handheld computer system.

So when he heard about the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs' (OMAFRA) Food Safety Initiative Traceability Grant Program he embraced the opportunity to automate some aspects of their operation and streamline the collection of information required for traceability. Traceability is a system designed to help agricultural businesses collect, retain and share information about raw materials, production and finished products.

The Stutzkis explored various types of equipment and software programs to determine which would meet their needs now and in the future and would help streamline their labour and information management issues.

They selected a mechanical handling system to sort and weigh each lamb at weaning and when required thereafter. They also purchased a radio frequency identification (RFID) handheld reader. Both systems scan the animals' RFID ear tag and obtain information, which can then be entered into their new computer and software program, which coordinates, sorts and retains all the record keeping information.

The Stutzkis say, "Becoming involved with the Traceability Grant Program has improved our operation not only in terms of reducing physical labour, but also by providing easier access to important information that affects our decision making."

The traceability system allows them to meet buyer demands effectively and efficiently by knowing exactly how many lambs are ready for shipping at any given time. Vince adds that being able to sort the animals electronically using RFID tags has saved them countless hours in physical handling and improved the efficiency of the farm operation.

The new animal handling system has increased safety and reduced the stress, time and labour associated with working with the sheep and lambs. This has in turn allowed the Stutzki's four children to become more involved in the sheep operation.

In addition, Vince wants to use the system for genetics and breeding purposes. He is working with his packer to receive in return detailed information on each carcass slaughtered at the abattoir. This will provide needed additional information for his management decisions surrounding feeding and breeding.

"It's much easier to plan and make decisions around each group of ewes now that we have the new traceability system in place" he notes.

Vince believes that Canadian farmers should be providing more lamb to Canadian buyers. "Current consumption of lamb in this country is only 50 per cent Canadian," he states. He sees a big market here for home-grown sheep and lambs and with the efficiency gained by using the new system, he believes it's all possible.

"It's all about labour," he says. "If we are going to provide more lamb to Canadian consumers we will need larger flocks. To manage them, we must become more efficient about how we collect our data and use our information."

Vince sees a bright future for Canadian sheep farmers by integrating traceability into their day to day business.

Traceability brings benefits:

By implementing a traceability system, ElmCrest Farms:

  • Can manage and analyze data for efficient decision making
  • Reduced the amount human labour required
  • Improved inventory management
  • Gained immediate access to information on animal performance

"Becoming involved with the Traceability Grant Program has improved our operation not only in terms of reducing physical labour, but also by providing easier access to important information that affects our decision making."

- Vincent and Heather Stutzki, ElmCrest Farms.

Funding for the Food Safety Initiative Traceability Grant Program and Pilot Project was provided under the Agriculture Policy framework, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1 877-424-1300

Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 15 March 2009
Last Reviewed: 12 February 2013