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August 4, 2023
The beef cow-calf industry has been slow to adopt electronic recordkeeping tools, but a new recordkeeping app, CalfDex, is being developed and tested at the Kansas State University, with cost and ease of use in mind. The developers of the tool surveyed cow-calf producers and feedlot operators about their information-recording priorities and willingness to share information in the supply chain downstream. Their findings are reported in a new article just published in Applied Animal Science.
"We launched a project to develop an electronic data recordkeeping system for basic information cow-calf producers could record in the field using cell phones, store in a cloud database, and perform data transfer to downstream cattle buyers," said lead author Ted Schroeder, PhD, with the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University.
David Beede, PhD, editor in chief of Applied Animal Science, said the program is undergoing beta testing with beef producers to assess its effectiveness in managing information and sharing in the beef cattle supply chain.
The article describes how developers consulted with cow-calf producers and feedlot operators to get their input and priorities to guide development of the CalfDex recordkeeping system. Surveys given to cow-calf producers revealed what information they see as important to collect. As reported in the article, most respondents wanted to record cow and calf identification, calf sex and birth date, weaning date, vaccination types and date, and illness and treatment data.
"CalfDex is also designed to facilitate downstream sharing of selected information," said Schroeder. The researchers surveyed producers about information sharing along the beef cattle supply chain and found that most cow-calf producers are willing to share all types of data, including vaccination and implant information, which feedlot operators reported as important information to receive. Survey results revealed that cow-calf producers would like to receive information about animal performance and growth from feedlot operators.
The researchers analyzed the survey data to develop the structure and interface of CalfDex in a user-friendly and functional way. "The app simplifies the collection, use, and sharing of calf data," said Schroeder.
He added, "Identifying, categorizing, and ranking the results of surveys from both cow-calf producers and feedlot operators provided important insight considered in the development of CalfDex."
Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.
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