Gone are the days of keeping penciled records on a dog-eared notebook in the pickup. Today’s cattle producers are embracing technology and bringing their laptops and smartphones into the dry lot, pasture, and barn. University researchers have responded by developing task-specific software for producers, including these six beef feed apps:
Feed Cost Cow-Q-Lator
This University of Nebraska-developed Excel worksheet compares the cost of total digestible nutrients and crude protein in various feeds, taking into account the cost of handling and transportation. It also calculates how much feed is needed for a specified duration per herd size, plus the cost of that feed. This free app can be downloaded at http://extension.unl.edu/statewide/westcentral/ag-economics.
Originally marketed for dairy producers, this app created at Penn State University is just as usable for beef cattle producers interested in feed home-raised feeds. It takes into account not only input costs but also labor hours, giving a more accurate picture that can be compared to commodity market prices. This iPhone app is available for free at www.agwebappfinder.com.
Feed Cost Calculator
This South Dakota State University app allows producers to compare the cost of two feedstuffs based on their protein and energy content. It was released during the drought of 2012 and continues to provide an easy way to weigh basic feed options. This app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and is available for free at https://itunes.apple.com.
The Beef Ration and Nutrition Decisions Software (BRaNDS) is a series of Excel worksheets created by Iowa State University. There are separate modules for beef cows, bulls, and feedyard management, each using features like body condition score or frame size, production stage, breed, weather conditions, and feedstuff to determine how to best feed the herd. The breeding program apps each cost $100, and the feedyard module costs $50, if purchased separately, or opt to buy the bundle for $260. Learn more at www.iowabeefcenter.org/brands.html.
Beef Cow Ration Balancer
Developed by the University of Minnesota, this app is another Excel worksheet. It was designed specifically for beef cows and uses various criteria with the aim of feeding cattle adequately but also efficiently. The free app helps producers decide how to manipulate feed sources depending on production stage, body conditioning, and availability of various feedstuffs. Download it for free at www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/beef/docs/UM-Beef-Cow-Ration-Balancer.xls.
Another app available from the University of Nebraska, the Beef Cattle Nutrient Requirements Model (BCNRM) requires Excel 2007 or later versions to run. This app was developed based off the latest feeding recommendations for beef cattle, and calculates the nutrient needs of cattle depending on their specific energy requirements. Download this app for free at http://nutritionmodels.com/beef.html.