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The Data Behind Decisions

Intuitive tools make chuteside choices faster, easier.

Curtis Koehn

In Ray Williams’ mind, collecting live-cattle weights is one of the best ways to make informed decisions on the ranch.

It’s almost too cliché to say, but Ray Williams, Gallagher’s North American business development manager, said it anyway: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Williams led a live demonstration Feb. 1 titled “Data-driven Decisions for Productivity” at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show.

Attendees were interested in learning about the latest data-collection tools available. The latest generation of cowboys and cowgirls, said Williams, are more excited about collecting data and using it in a cattle operation. For some of the older generation, data requires a paradigm shift, he noted.

In Williams’ mind, collecting live-cattle weights is one of the best ways to make informed decisions on the ranch. Gallagher has created a scale system that can be mounted to almost any squeeze chute or single-file alley. The scale works quickly and records weights within 1% accuracy of a certified scale. Workers can read an animal’s weight on a computer screen chuteside and use that information to make decisions while the animal is still caught, or save it to be interpreted and used for a future decision.

Knowing accurate weights helps ranchers more correctly dose cattle for products like pour-ons or antibiotics.

“We weigh animals for economic purposes to make improvement,” said Williams.
Collecting weaning weights is especially important, he emphasized, for comparing performance of individual calves. It is also a great way to keep up-to-date on the mama cows’ ability to raise healthy, heavy calves.

A few years of recorded weaning weights on calves make it easy to find your best and worst cows, said Williams.

Another way to document and keep track of cattle chuteside is through the use of electronic identification (eID) tags. Gallagher makes eID reader wands that connect via WiFi to the scale computer system on the chute, so information can be updated in real time.

The computer software integrated into the scale system and eID reader has the ability to pull up information like birth dates, previous treatment dates, slaughter withdrawal schedules, vaccine inventories and lot numbers, and has a section for individualized notes on animals.

Using data-driven information, said Williams, is about improving operations. It’s about making the right decisions for your herd.

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Editor’s Note: Paige Nelson is a cattlewoman and freelance writer from Rigby, Idaho. This article was written as part of Angus Media’s coverage of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show.



 

 

 

 

 

 





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