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Progressive Cattleman - Feeding a taste of maximized herd potential

Laura Handke

OCT. 24, 2018

Technology and equipment from companies such as GrowSafe Systems and SmartFeed are changing animal selection and herd management for seedstock and commercial producers alike.

Both systems allow for the real-time measurement of feed consumption through installed equipment in the pen or on the range. Data collected are uploaded through cloud-based solutions and provided back to the producer, either in a report or as raw data to calculate consumption, actual gains and residual feed intake.

The information creates another tool producers can use to evaluate each animal on its own merits of conversion in the selection of replacement stock with proven feed efficiency.

For SmartFeed customer Rob Thomas, owner of Baker City, Oregon’s Thomas Angus Ranch, the decision to go with a portable, solar-charged option was a necessity.

“We are in an area that doesn’t have electricity, so we use solar panels. Those marry up with the hardware on the feedbunks to send data to the cloud we can access any time,” says Thomas.

The affordable system allows for the collection of high-quality data anywhere, any time, without any compromise of accuracy or quality of data.

“I was introduced to the company through extension and really liked the way the system could be set up and going in a matter of minutes. It is really simple to use,” he says. “If we decide to test bulls at a different location, we can do that pretty fast.”

As the need for additional bunks increases, the system can be added onto by purchasing an additional bunk or more, with all of the data accessible and owned by the producer.

For Thomas, the SmartFeed system has been a valuable tool in both the selection of bulls and donor cows in the operation’s ET program, as well.

“We use this efficiency test to select all of our donor cows. We are multiplying these genetics so many times, getting so many calves out of these bulls and females, this system really helps us narrow down which animals we want to bring back into our breeding system,” he says.

Thomas says their operation is also seeing the test identify some incredible genetics. “In our last group of bulls, one animal converted at 3.29 to 1 – he was really an outlier, gaining 6 pounds a day.”

Shortly before this article went to print, the bull was purchased for over $100,000, and Thomas credits much of that to the animal’s high conversion rate, identified through SmartFeed testing.

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