A Day in the Life of a Beef Farmer

"Hey Martha, when did we vaccinate the calves last fall?"

"I'm not sure, John, I think it was the week before Thanksgiving, but now that I think about it, that may have been two years ago, now that I'm thinking about it" replies Martha.

"Oh, see I thought it was the end of October, 'cause I remember I had to take the truck in for service in the morning and I picked up vaccines on the way home. Oh well, I need to get vaccine again, I don't suppose you remember what we used then?"

A variant of this theme probably gets played out more times than we want to admit. Change the names or the roles, maybe it's a father-son operation, two or more brothers working together, or 3-4 families working together in an operation. How can you have a place to jot down small details like the day the calves were vaccinated or the vaccines that were used? What about the dates that the bulls were let out, and, maybe even more importantly, dates that the bulls were pulled out or switched around.

A common refrain that I hear these days is that many beef operations could use a 'part time secretary', "just to help with the desk work". While it cannot help with all the tasks that need to get jotted down or recorded, a computer with the right software can help. BioTrack, our on-line beef management software, allows you to capture pieces of information like those in our 'little dialogue' above. The benefit is that things like vaccination date and vaccination type are available for recall later that month, or even years later! You can search or reference your information from any computer connected to the internet, you are not tied to your farm office.

Collecting records is only the first step; to be truly useful, they need to be stored in an organized manner which allows rapid retrieval and analysis.
Figure 1. Collecting records is only the first step; to be truly useful, they need to be stored in an organized manner which allows rapid retrieval and analysis.

BioTrack is designed to capture the information that you want, on a customized basis. It is also designed to connect data on individual animals, across owners and from pedigree-to-cooler. It also connects to the CCIA (Canadian Cattle Identification Agency) database for things like age verification and to the BIXS (Beef InfoXchange System) database (for carcass data).

BioTrack also lets you:

  • Keep health records (vaccinations and treatments) on both individual and group bases
  • Make culling decisions using within-herd production indexes
  • Make selection decisions using genetic evaluations, provided as across breed EPD's (expected progeny differences)
  • Market your cattle with proven protocols of production
  • Use evaluations of carcass data to make improvements in genetics and production practices to improve your business
  • Use the above pieces of information to make more effective business decisions
    Nothing gets installed on your computer, so you don't have to be concerned about loading or updating software on your computer. And if your computer crashes, no problem, at least in terms of your BioTrack based information - it's safe and secure on our computer servers. Just grab another computer with internet access and you are "good to go". BioTrack editions are available for different herd sizes and levels of information. It's up to you to decide what you want to record. In essence, BioTrack offers an on-line record keeping system that offers you flexibility, convenience, simplicity and security.

Now let's go back and visit Martha and John... Martha insisted that John get BioTrack. John has just come in for supper and asks Martha, "When did we vaccinate the calves last fall?" Martha goes over to their laptop, pulls up the bookmarked BioTrack site, enters her user name and password and pulls up the vaccination records on the 2009 born calves. She replies "John, you and Bruce did them on the twenty-second of October, you did the 95 at the home farm in the morning and did the 35 at Bruce's in the afternoon; you used products X,Y and Z…." You get the idea.

If you would like to know more about BioTrack contact Beef Improvement Opportunities at 519-767-2665 x311, or x306.

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For more information:
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E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca