Streamlined Herd Management

Published on Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:27am

Streamlined Herd Management

 By Maura Keller

 Here’s one thing we know: Engineers are creative problem solvers. And the team at Engineering with IT, known as EngwIT, which was founded in 2006 as a veteran-owned software and hardware engineering firm, is no exception.

For more than 12 years, the firm’s team of engineers, system architects, and developers, all who come from a myriad of backgrounds in diverse industries, have devised products and services used to enhance their clients’ business strategies across a variety of industries. And one such product developed, HerdOne, is having a profound impact on the cattle management arena.

In the Beginning
When father and son, Allen and Matthew Marney, founded EngwIT, they had a desire to grow an engineering and technology team that provides high-quality solutions, unmatched customer service, and world class engineering talent. While the familial duo may not have initially envisioned developing a program that would dramatically impact how ranchers and farmers manage their livestock, they do have a team of experts who are always looking for solutions to inherent problems that various industries face.

According to Kyle Britton, senior systems analyst at EngwIT, many of the company’s employees grew up on and currently have farms with cattle, horses, and goats. In fact, Britton and Jonathan Newton, two of the employees who led the design and development efforts for HerdOne, were both looking for solutions to track and manage the records associated with their own animals.
“We were surprised at the lack of options in this space and noticed many of the options were either outdated, overly complex, or too expensive,” Britton says. They knew that if they were struggling to find an effective solution, many others must be dealing with this as well.  So in May 2017, the development on HerdOne began in earnest.
As Britton explains, during the design process the EngwIT team turned to several farmers and ranchers—utilizing regional producers to help identify the features and process flows that would make HerdOne most beneficial for livestock and farm management.
Amanda and Levi Price (Circle L Ranch, Gravette, AR), Warren Alexander (WDA Farms, Gravette, AR), and Ted Staats (Staats Farm, Hiwasse, AR) provided much-needed expertise over the course of creating HerdOne, and for that, the EngwIT team is thankful.
“This is a process we continue every day and we believe we have a product that creates value at an affordable price for anyone using it.” Britton says.

How It Works
When it comes to cattle management, accessibility is key. That’s why the developers of HerdOne created a web-based application (www.herdone.com) that is responsive to any screen size and can be viewed on any device that has a browser.
“Access from anywhere with an Internet connection—even while in the field—allows farmers to put in the data immediately versus forgetting about doing so later,” Britton says. Is there a new calf in the pasture? Did you administer an antibiotic? Or perform a pregnancy check? HerdOne allows users to enter all of these events when they occur.
Here’s how it works: HerdOne takes the livestock related data that you enter and translates it into information that helps farmers and ranchers make the day-to-day decisions associated with their farm. This information helps with process optimization, identifying high or low offspring performance, etc. Users can upload pictures of animals, receipts, health records, and registration papers, having access to this vital information at any time. And if properly utilized, the financial section can help make tax season less stressful and informs users if they are staying profitable.
One user of HerdOne explained the role this web-based application is having on his farm’s productivity levels. “We do rotational grazing and keep our bulls in for short breeding windows. HerdOne has given us the ability to move cows in and out of herds and pastures much easier than our previous spreadsheet,” Taylor W. says. Knowing the last time a cow had a calf has also been invaluable to this farm’s productivity levels as a non-producing cow, is a non-profitable cow.
“Additionally, we can look through historical sales data to identify our most profitable cows as well as candidates from which to keep heifers,” Taylor W. says.
From the aspect of ease and accessibility, HerdOne was designed to be seamless for the end user. For instance, there is no software to install and updates are streamlined for the customer.  As Britton explains, anyone who can navigate Facebook or other popular applications should have no problem using HerdOne.  
Scalable for farms and ranches of any size, HerdOne provides the required tools to help manage a farm. Ultimately, anyone wanting to gain insights from their livestock data to help drive business decisions is a prime candidate for HerdOne.
“Our reporting feature allows a user to generate a variety of reports in PDF or Excel format,” Britton says. “Should someone need assistance, we are more than happy to provide it. We pride ourselves on our customer service and responsiveness to customer requests and feedback. Many of the features and items currently in place, as well as on our roadmap, have resulted from interaction with our current customers.”

Primary Data Points
HerdOne offers a wealth of options for managing livestock. Including:
• Identifying the best and worst performing livestock in a herd from an offspring standpoint based on recorded weights and sales prices.
As Britton explains, when culling cows, identifying the right animals to sell is extremely important. Prior to HerdOne, a farmer may simply look at each animal and make an assessment of whether or not to include them in the cull. Now with HerdOne, his ability to track offspring weight and compare those weights across his entire herd allows him to make a more informed decision.
“He can focus additional inspection on the cows yielding lower calf wean weights and make sure he’s not selling one of his top producing cows,” Britton says.
• Identifying open livestock to examine and possibly sell.
• Accessing health check/vaccination information on a specific animal easily and quickly.

For example, let’s say a rancher is attending an equine show or event and needs to pull up Coggins test results. The EngwIT team has spoken with many veterinarians who have stated that they receive calls all of the time requesting a copy of a Coggins test.
“Most of the time in order to get it the vets have to go in to their office to find the file, scan it, and email it to the requestor,” Britton says.  “If the user simply uploads that Coggins test to HerdOne, then it is available to them anytime, anywhere.”
• Recording all sales, purchases, and expenses as they are incurred throughout the year and then utilizing the financial reporting feature at tax time.
“This has helped us personally as we no longer throw our receipts into the glove box or a bag in the office,” Britton says. With HerdOne, expenses can be entered with a picture of the receipt as they’re incurred throughout the year. Now we don’t have to worry about filing through a huge pile of receipts each April or wondering if we’ve found each farm-related receipt. This helps ensure we are getting the deductions we have earned each tax season.”
• Accessing the antibiotic records of each animal during its lifespan.
Farmers marketing organic beef must keep track of any antibiotics given over the course of raising an animal. Having these records helps a producer accurately market an animal during the sales process.  
• Effectively managing the components required during an AI breeding program.
HerdOne allows users to inventory semen straws used in A.I. breeding programs. “Knowing how many straws are on hand, and which canister they are located in, prevents a farmer from having to search through the tank for specific straws, which can lower semen quality,” Britton says.
EngwIT’s vision for HerdOne is quite simply: To expand technology solutions in the agricultural space by equipping farmers with tools they can utilize to improve productivity and profitability within their livestock operations.
“Population projections estimate growth of a billion more people worldwide over the next decade,” Britton says. “We want to provide farmers with the tools they need to be more efficient and capable of meeting the food needs required by this growth.”
EngwIT also encourages more students to pursue careers in agriculture and get them used to having technology as a part of that future. That’s one of the reasons the firm offers a free student version of HerdOne.

“We continue to enhance and add features within HerdOne on a daily basis,” Britton says. “For instance, we plan to add scale integration for producers who weigh their livestock and are looking for an easier input method.” In addition, the EngwIT team plans to allow for additional insight into the supply chain with a goal of bringing more money back to producers utilizing proper management practices within their operations.
And Britton says they plan to continue to “listen to our customers to enhance current features and develop additional tools that add value to their operations.” 

Key Capabilities of the HerdOne Application:

• Livestock Inventory
      o Animal Profile Information
      o Herd/Group
      o Pasture/Location
• Health Checks and Treatments
• Breeding Information
      o AI Inventory
      o Pregnancy Checks/Status
      o Breeding/Calving Window
• Progeny/Offspring
• Pasture/Field Management
      o Cattle Movement/Location
      o Crop production, sales, purchases
      o Fertilizer, Lime, Planting
• Performance

      o Birth weight
      o Wean weight
      o Adjusted 205 wean weight
      o Average Daily Gain
      o Yearling weight
      o Sale weight
      o Sale Price
• Asset/Equipment
      o Asset Info
      o Maintenance Records
• Financials
      o Sales
      o Purchases
      o Expenses