Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Out to taste sweet success with novel feeding system

Nigel Woodside developed his unique in-parlour feeding system after a local yeast importer approached him about finding a cost effective solution to ensuring dairy cattle are fed consistent amounts of minerals and supplements.

"I had been working on the project in my spare time for a number of months and had installed a prototype system on a farm in Cork. After hearing about the Propel Programme through LEDCOM in Larne I decided it was the right time for me to seek help and support so I could turn my idea into a business venture."

The Varifed micro feed system can be manually operated by the farmer via a push button in the milking parlour or it can be operated automatically using a signal from the cow's electronic ear tag or collar which is picked up by an RFID scanner. Individual or batched animals can be fed depending on the animal's diet requirements or fodder quality.

The system can dispense amounts from 1/2 gram to 200 grams in 1/2 gram increments and has a 'real time' animal feed data recording and storage capability.

An "out of parlour" micro feed system offering is also in the pipeline which will satisfy beef and suckler cow farms.

The Propel team are teaching Nigel about all the elements involved in running his Varifed – such as managing cash flow, understanding legal implications, venture capital and product development.

"In this super technological age I've realised how important it is to get a new business and products to market quickly, while avoiding costly mistakes.

"The experience of the team and robustness of the Propel Programme ensures that these mistakes can be bypassed and the time to market can be compressed. Over the next few months I look forward to gaining advice and support from my mentor specifically with marketing and raising finance."

Stephen (left), is an investor, business angel and non-executive director of software giant Sophia.

He has been working with Nigel Woodside to determine Varifed's business needs, develop a go-to-market strategy and build a sales model.

He said: "With Nigel's Varifed micro-feed system, I'm in the fortunate position as a mentor that we have a working and viable product fit for market.

"Together we have developed an easy to understand business pitch, succinct and simple, allowing us to whet the farmer's appetite for this innovative, efficient, everyday agri solution."