PRODUCERS BENEFIT FROM SMART TECHNOLOGY

by: Linda Breazeale
MSU Ag Communications

Mississippi State -- Today's cattle producers have a variety of technological applications available on their smartphones, which are about the size of the little notebooks their predecessors once carried in their shirt pockets for record keeping.

Brandi Karisch, an assistant professor of animal and dairy sciences and Extension beef cattle specialist at Mississippi State University, said use of smartphones and their apps is growing among beef cattle producers.

“Producers are using apps on their phones to monitor the weather and market prices. They also use apps for herd management, record keeping and employee work hours,” she said. “In addition to the apps, producers can connect to websites or records stored on their home computers from anywhere on their farm or beyond.”

Jane Parish, MSU professor of animal and dairy sciences and Extension beef cattle specialist, said this increased use of technology allows beef producers to take the Internet with them to the field to solve problems.

“Producers are even joining social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, with apps on their smartphones,” Parish said.

Cattle producers are invited to follow the MSU Extension beef specialists on Twitter at @MSUBeefCattle. The group also has four- to five-minute educational videos on YouTube, which are also available in app form, that cover a wide range of beef cattle topics. These videos can be found on the MSUBeefCattle channel.

Karisch and Parish provided technical information to develop the MSUES Cattle Calculator, which was released in December for Apple devices. The free app, created at the request of Mississippi beef cattle producers, calculates a variety of factors that impact livestock management decisions.

“The app helps with reproduction-related calculations, such as expected calving dates, the number of days a cow has been pregnant and breeding season timelines,” she said. “The calculator will help producers monitor growth and overall performance of their cattle. Management guidance includes dosage calculations for dewormers and other medicines based on an animal's weight and the manufacturer's recommended dosage. It also provides frame scores and trailer stocking density.”

Billy Ray of Pocahontas has been using this app to monitor cattle on his family's Simmental/Simbrah farm in Hinds County.

“My record keeping is greatly improved because of this app. It is much more convenient than paper methods,” he said. “It is right at your fingertips, it does everything, and it's so easy to use. I'm not very computer literate, but this is simple and direct. It's got everything I need.”

Ray said he initially used the calculator primarily for reproduction issues but has started using it to monitor calf growth.

“We will weigh calves at birth and weaning time and maybe at yearling weight,” he said. “It's hard to manage if you can't measure and track their growth.”

Kelli Alexander of the Extension Center for Technology Outreach developed the app with input from producers, Karisch, Parish and other faculty members.

Download the app at http://tinyurl.com/msues-cattle-calculator or by searching MSUES Cattle Calculator in the Apple app store.







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