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The Casual Cattle Conversations Podcast: Straighten Out Your Herd Records

Reference: Podcast Corner

Straighten Out Your Herd Records

November 27 |  Written By Shaye Koester

Ray Williams with Gallagher North America shares strategies to help cattle producers turn the herd record-keeping process into a simple one.

In God we trust and all others bring data, right? This phrase has been thrown around at various conventions and presentations, so I am not entirely sure who to credit for it. One thing I do know is that it is getting truer and truer each day. Whether it is data as simple as calving and vaccine records or as encompassing as DNA, weights, foot scores and anything else you can think of; it matters in today’s beef industry. Ray Williams from the team at Gallagher North America joined me for a conversation about the challenges beef producers face when it comes to data collection and management along with a few solutions to make the process easier for everyone involved.

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Animal ID Systems

“Everyone does it different but there are a few commonalities that make systems work,” said Williams as we started off the conversation about herd record keeping. The basics of record keeping begin with how you are tagging your replacement females and newborn calves. You need to have an animal ID system that all people on your operation understand and allows every animal to have their own unique ID. A common tagging method for calves is to give them the same ID as their dam until replacement heifers are selected. This method works great unless you have a digital record keeping system. Williams explains that when two or more animals have the same number, it creates confusion in digital platforms when you are inputting data or transferring records. There are a variety of other tagging systems that are effective and won’t create this confusion. Williams recommends using the international alphanumeric system as a method for generating IDs for your livestock.

Methods for Recording Data

When it comes to how you record data, the biggest thing is that it must work for your entire team. Some people use dry-erase markers to write on the window of their side-by-sides and others input data into apps and sheets on their phones. Depending on the size of your operation and how many people are involved, how you record information is going to vary. “The main point to consider is to make sure the data makes it back to one main point and is easily transferable,” said Williams. He sees an increase in the number of cattle producers switching over to digital platforms, because it makes it easier to analyze data after it is recorded, saves time and reduces the chance for human error and lost records.

Technology for All Generations

It’s easy to say that grandpas and dads won’t be able to handle new technology or phone apps. However, Williams shares that he sees many older producers enjoying this new technology. The Gallagher apps and dashboard allow cattle producers to talk to the app and input information instead of having to type it in. It also allows you to see herd averages and outliers faster. You can also set up alerts that pop up for specific animals when you scan their EID tags. These can be used to remind you to take a DNA sample, not to breed this cow again or whatever note you need to pop up when this animal comes through the chute.

Overall, Williams urges cattlemen and women to take the time to determine what data points they need to track to move their herd forward and look at what technology and recording systems can do that for them to make their lives easier. Listen to the full podcast episode and get all the details by searching for Casual Cattle Conversations on your favorite podcast app.