Livestock application developed on the Romney Marsh sheep farm

Sheep farmer Ed with his brother James and co-founder Tommy

Submitted to the Folkestone Herald

An entrepreneur from a sheep-farming family in Romney Marsh is on a mission to modernize the business.

James Stretton developed the FlockFinder app which aims to help sheep farmers with livestock management.

James’ family has been raising Romney sheep for six generations. It is one of the oldest breeds in the country and dates back to the 13th century.

While his brother Ed still herds sheep in Kent Marsh, James left to pursue a career developing new technology in the town.

But when he heard about Ed’s daily frustration with the paperwork needed to keep records of his herd and any medical treatment, James realized he might be able to help.

Six generations of farmers

Delivering technology to an industry that has a reputation for being resistant to change was never going to be easy.

However, after spending six months talking to sheep farmers across the country, James realized there was a real need for easy-to-use technology that focuses on practical, everyday challenges.

Ed with his herd

James said: “A common complaint we heard was that the existing tools weren’t designed for farmers, the technology didn’t understand what daily life on the farm was like and the challenges faced in the field.

“We focused the development of FlockFinder on a farmer-first mindset, creating what farmers want most, listening to feedback, and evolving the platform to meet their needs.”

The new app allows farmers to record herd and medical treatment data in the field, and share information instantly between multiple users and devices.

This means everyone on the farm has an up-to-date digital record and the farmer has an instantly accessible picture of the sheep that have been treated.

Medical treatments can be recorded in the field

James is not the first member of his family to develop technology aimed at modernizing the world of sheep farming.

His father John designed and built wool balers which were deployed throughout the UK. Prior to his retirement in the early 2000s, every piece of wool in the country passed through one of his machines before being shipped.

Using Flockfinder

James and the Flockfinder team believe the app launch is just the beginning.

They are currently developing functionality to help with livestock optimization, breeding stock selection and digital movement reporting to DEFRA’s Livestock Information Service.

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James said: “It’s great to see our platform used by my family who still operate the Romney Marsh to help them meet the challenges of the modern agricultural landscape.

“Having grown up on a farm, I have tremendous respect for the work of farmers and it’s great to think that our technology will be used to help an industry I have so much love for.”

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