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Signet client survey

In 2020 Signet sent our clients a survey to evaluate Signet’s services and identify areas of improvement that breeders felt would benefit their flocks and herds.

The survey provided a valuable insight into areas where clients feel we are succeeding, but also areas and suggestions for further improvement. The 60 responses received were generally positive and encouraging. Analysing these responses has allowed us to identify common themes for improvement, such as providing a greater focus on commercial messaging and establishing more meeting opportunities for Signet clients.

The desire to improve these areas is shared by Signet and your feedback has helped us prioritise future activities.

What did we ask our breeders?

The survey covered a range of key areas:

  • What does Signet do well and what can Signet do better?
  • Is Signet value for money?
  • How has the availability of EBVs changed your clients’ businesses?
  • How effective do Signet clients think AHDB’s KE activities are in terms of educating commercial producers?

What does Signet do well?

Overall, the feedback was very positive with over 95% of clients satisfied or very satisfied with the service. The areas that clients valued ranged from:-

  • Great customer service regarding data collection, communications and prompting for data
  • Unbiased data analysis (EBVs and Indexes), reporting and interpretation
  • Flexibility of service provision, with analyses every month
  • Great new website for reporting data and data presentation
  • Greatly improved data entry services
  • Formalised record keeping that allows flock comparisons
  • Free inbreeding software
  • Professional staff

Signet clients are using the services to directly influence decisions on their farms, 78% of producers felt that the service had made a difference on their farm. Clients are using the information in a variety of ways from; retention and culling decisions to ram selection and mating management using the inbreeding calculator.          

Where can Signet improve?

The survey identified six key areas that breeders would like to see improve.

  • “Get the commercial message across” – A remit we share with others in AHDB, QMS and HCC and the wider industry
  • Train clients to make better use of the data and database
  • Continue to improve the analysis and recording services
  • Make more use of other data sources
  • Generate greater pedigree engagement in recording

The two most common areas themes were to get the commercial message across and to train clients to get more out of the data and database.

Signet clients are seeing the benefits

Signet breeders are seeing the benefits of performance recording and improved livestock performance on their farms, but feel the wider industry is still slow in its uptake of recorded genetics. Breeders are keen to see more work done to help commercial farmers understand the benefit of using improved genetics and to interpret the information correctly.

Breeders are finding the new database ( easier to use and are pleased with the new functionality, but don’t feel they are getting the most from the information that is available. There is a desire for face-to-face meetings to help breeders learn more and to meet up with other breeders. These activities have been limited in recent years; but will be at the forefront of our mind as we plan future Signet activities.

What’s next?

These results show the value breeders place on the Signet service; 94% of breeders would recommend Signet’s performance recording services to other pedigree breeders.

Over 70% of Signet clients are also seeing improved financial returns through their involvement in performance recording; with Signet’s data helping them to reach new customers, price rams and improve on farm performance.

The survey reflects changes to the industry that were seen in the recent Sheep Breed Survey; with a move to more rams being sold directly from farm and an increasing number of crossbred rams being sold.

While this is good news, the survey has highlighted areas we can improve and a plan is being developed to enhance our services and further increase the financial benefits that genetic improvement delivers to industry.

About the author

Ed Brant

Ed Brant

Ed joined the Signet team in September 2019, once he had got Kelso ram sales out of the way! 

He has a degree in Agriculture from Newcastle University and a massive interest in genetics and performance recording.

The family farm in Lincolnshire has pedigree Hampshire Down and Lleyn flocks, as well as commercial sheep and cattle.