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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: From Ear Tags to Spread Sheets: Upgrading Your Herd Management System

Author
item Roberts, Andrew

Submitted to: Montana State University Beef Newsletter
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2006
Publication Date: May 6, 2006
Citation: Roberts, A.J. 2006. From ear tags to spread sheets: upgrading your herd management system. Montana State University Beef Newsletter Beef Q&A 11(5):5-7.

Interpretive Summary: Much of the focus for the national ID system is currently placed on methods of tracing animals through the market. Because of this, numerous demonstration projects have been implemented to show how Electronic ID ear tags (EID) can be used to follow calves from the ranch to slaughter. However, the national program will require that all animals are identified, so producers can use EID tags to assist with collection use of individual cow records. On going research at Ft. Keogh is currently evaluating EID tags to determine advantages and potential limitation of implementing EID in a cowherd record keeping system. Components of the system included EID tags, an EID scanner and a computer that could be used chute side. The system is designed to scan the EID, which is automatically entered into an Excel file, and then users manually type in cow weight and any other measurements or comments into the Excel spreadsheet. The system allows for a very simple way to enter new information for individual cows into your computer records. The system can be set up to enter as much information as desired for each animal as it is processed through the chute. Upon scanning the EID, the spreadsheet instantaneously displays previously recorded information for that animal. Examples of information that can be displayed include: visual ID, weight at last working, change in weight or ADG, breeding or calving date, pregnancy status, calf id, calf weaning weight, and a running total of how many animals have been worked that day. The spreadsheet can also be used to flag specific cows to facilitate sorting or for special treatments. For example, if a producer wishes to sort cows into different pastures, the desired pasture for each cow can be added to the records prior to working, and the specific pasture will be displayed for each cow as she is processed through the chute. Likewise, if there were just a few cows out of the entire herd that needed special treatment, such as a vaccination, the word “SHOT” could be entered into the record for a cow before working, and the computer would display “SHOT” when that cow was scanned. At the end of the cattle working, Excel spreadsheet functions can be used to calculate averages for any of the new information added, allowing the producer to know the status of the cows before closing up the computer and heading to the house.

Technical Abstract: Much of the focus for the national ID system is currently placed on methods of tracing animals through the market. Because of this, numerous demonstration projects have been implemented to show how Electronic ID ear tags (EID) can be used to follow calves from the ranch to slaughter. However, the national program will require that all animals are identified, so producers can use EID tags to assist with collection use of individual cow records. On going research at Ft. Keogh is currently evaluating EID tags to determine advantages and potential limitation of implementing EID in a cowherd record keeping system. Components of the system included EID tags, an EID scanner and a computer that could be used chute side. The system is designed to scan the EID, which is automatically entered into an Excel file, and then users manually type in cow weight and any other measurements or comments into the Excel spreadsheet. The system allows for a very simple way to enter new information for individual cows into your computer records. The system can be set up to enter as much information as desired for each animal as it is processed through the chute. Upon scanning the EID, the spreadsheet instantaneously displays previously recorded information for that animal. Examples of information that can be displayed include: visual ID, weight at last working, change in weight or ADG, breeding or calving date, pregnancy status, calf id, calf weaning weight, and a running total of how many animals have been worked that day. The spreadsheet can also be used to flag specific cows to facilitate sorting or for special treatments. For example, if a producer wishes to sort cows into different pastures, the desired pasture for each cow can be added to the records prior to working, and the specific pasture will be displayed for each cow as she is processed through the chute. Likewise, if there were just a few cows out of the entire herd that needed special treatment, such as a vaccination, the word “SHOT” could be entered into the record for a cow before working, and the computer would display “SHOT” when that cow was scanned. At the end of the cattle working, Excel spreadsheet functions can be used to calculate averages for any of the new information added, allowing the producer to know the status of the cows before closing up the computer and heading to the house.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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