Technology That Informs Data-driven Decisions
Few cattle producers are in the business to push papers. Working outdoors tending land and livestock is a major draw of this lifestyle. Kenny Hofer of Alberta, Canada, shares that sentiment.
“There’s nothing more rewarding or a more gratifying feeling than seeing a live calf getting up and seeing the world for the first time,” Kenny says.
Kenny and his team run a diversified operation. They feed out 1,900 head of cattle, manage a cow/calf herd, milk cows, run sheep and grow crops. He relies on technologies like Performance Beef to find efficiencies as the business grows and diversifies.
Kenny started using Performance Beef in 2018 and hasn’t looked back. Gone are the days of a hard-copy binder with rations for feeding, a less-than-accurate feed truck scale and notes galore from health checks.
By using the program for beef cattle, dairy and sheep, Kenny maintains a more accurate pulse on his multifaceted business, all from his iPad® tablet. So far, he has trained seven employees to feed using Performance Beef.
“This technology has really helped us move forward in the right way,” Kenny says. “It has also helped us environmentally. By doing a better job of feeding, we’re able to decrease days on feed, thus producing less methane.1,2”
Beyond that, fewer days on feed means more value for fewer dollars spent.
Value beyond the bunk
Performance Beef does more than streamline feeding for the operation. Kenny and his team sync the platform with EID tags on the beef cattle side to automate individual health and performance data.
“We can correlate a visual tag with an EID tag. That speeds up processing because you don’t have to type that visual tag in; you just scan your EID tag and you’re done,” Kenny says.
The real-time health data lets Kenny evaluate trends and become more proactive.
“It gives us an idea of whether an animal is responding to certain vaccines or not. We can identify if an animal has been treated multiple times already and make decisions based on that,” he says.
Monitoring treatments and analyzing the efficacy of health protocols help Kenny work toward his long-term animal-health goals.
“I want to cut down on the use of antibiotics and treat animals only when we really need it,” Kenny says.
For him, it is a full-circle model. With his herd’s data at his fingertips, he can work to keep animals healthier and more feed-efficient, helping create a more environmentally friendly business.
Performance Beef is a tool Kenny says he would choose repeatedly because it saves time and helps him make smarter management decisions that can help increase profitability and sustainability.
“It’s an absolutely necessary tool to have in your toolbox,” Kenny says. “I don’t know where we’d be without it, but I don’t even want to think about that.”
1 Judy JV, Bachman GC, Brown-Brandl TM, et al. Energy balance and diurnal variation in methane production as affected by feeding frequency in Jersey cows in late lactation. J of Dairy Sci. 2018;101(12):10899-10910.