Joseph Ring custom feeds at Nordman Feedlots, a multi-generational family farming operation. He works alongside his grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins. Everyone handles a different facet of the operation, including land management, growing crops, feeding cattle and running cow/calf pairs.
Since he got his first cow at age six, Joseph has been engrossed in the business side of the farm. “My first tax return is from when I was nine, so I learned the business side of things early, balancing accounts before school,” he says.
When he’s not working on the Oregon, Illinois, operation, he runs his audio business on the side, DJing and servicing audio equipment for community theaters. Joseph is pretty tech savvy and knew the operation could incorporate more data to work smarter.
“I was looking to streamline data collection and the ability to track our feedstuffs exactly, rather than just a percentage of an ideal load,” explains Joseph.
In 2017, he discovered Performance Beef on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I had found an option that was simple and the equipment was affordable, so the startup costs were sensible,” he says.
While he was quickly sold on using Performance Beef to streamline data collection and analysis, Joseph knew his family was going to be harder to convince.
“I will admit, our people driving the feed truck and mixing feed didn’t really like having an iPad around at first. They didn’t want to admit that it saved them time, even though it did, particularly when we were changing rations,” says Joseph with a laugh.
Once he and his family tried it, they tailored and tweaked the software to meet their operation’s exact needs.
“We don’t have to waste an hour sitting in an office or a truck writing out new load cards for a ration change. Now, it’s just the push of a button,” says Joseph.
Since its start three generations ago, Nordman Feedlot had operated by gathering everything on paper and punching in the data. Performance Beef changed that.
“The automated tracking of what we’re doing is what really changed when we got Performance Beef,” Joseph says.
Today there are at least four people using the app around the feedlot, all with vastly different technology experiences. The days of load cards and estimating feedstuffs have been replaced with iPads and automated, instantly accessible data.
While it is one of the few metrics not being captured, the amount of time freed up for other tasks has been an added bonus.
For a custom feeding operation, knowing your inputs is a top priority for both profitability and ensuring accuracy for customers. Using Performance Beef makes managing those inputs that much easier.
“Now I’m able to keep those records, access the data and review analytics to better manage our operation,” says Joseph. “The data from Performance Beef has brought us from uncertainty to something measurable.”