Smart phone, choices
It’s said you should never stop learning, and now one University of Missouri graduate student is delivering knowledge into the hands of beef cattle producers everywhere.
Mindy Montgomery, 25, a native of Malta Bend, launched the Beef Cattle EPD application, or app, in January. The app is available on Android smart phones and Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. This new technology allows producers to access the explanations of each breed’s EPDs, or expected progeny differences, and then see how their own cattle stack up against current breed averages — all with the touch of a finger.
Montgomery grew up on a diversified grain crop operation in central Missouri, but entered the cattle business with a 4-H heifer project. Today, she and her family market farm-raised beef, so it’s no surprise that Montgomery learned a great deal about the industry from her own experiences, as well as from her studies.
• An MU grad student has created a smart phone app for beef producers.
• Mindy Montgomery’s new Beef Cattle EPD app will allow users to compare data.
• This may be just the beginning for similar technology to be developed.
In 2007, she graduated from MU with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and took a job with Cattle Visions. While at Cattle Visions, Montgomery would often see producers make breeding decisions based solely on the bull’s birth weight and picture, instead of taking into account how that animal ranked compared to the breed averages, and in what areas their own herds needed to improve.
Back to the books
Now pursuing her master’s in agricultural education, Montgomery saw the perfect opportunity to help educate beef producers about performance data when she received a course assignment.
The assignment challenged students to come up with a new way to teach people about agriculture. As her classmates talked about making videos or creating surveys, Montgomery had a very different idea.“I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if I can make an app?’ ” she says. “And then I did.”
One class assignment morphed into nearly four months of work. During those months, Montgomery programmed the application and compiled data from 10 breed associations — Angus, Charolais, Chianina, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Maine Anjou, Red Angus, Shorthorn and Simmental — into simple and easy-to-understand charts.
“I’m just releasing the information again,” she says, “all in one place.”The project now serves as the creative portion of her master’s program. The app, which can be downloaded free of charge, has a link to a survey with 10 quick questions for users to answer.
The six multiple-choice and the four fill-in-the-blank questions are designed to help Montgomery know who uses the application, and how they use it to help their beef operation. This information will then be used to prove the value of using smart phone applications as a way to distribute information throughout the cattle industry.
Montgomery sees the possibilities for this technology as virtually limitless. Since most producers do not carry computers with them but often have their phones, they could easily access the latest industry information.
Someday, she sees breed associations using this technology, as well as opportunities for livestock-related businesses to advertise on the apps.
Maupin is a University of Missouri agricultural journalism student. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article published in the March, 2011 edition of MISSOURI RURALIST.