Benefits of technology in the feedyard

By Micro Technologies

Integrating systems and processes that drive efficiencies 
Cows in feed lot

What exactly is precision agriculture? According to the International Society of Precision Agriculture, it's "a management strategy that gathers, processes and analyzes temporal, spatial and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions."

As a producer running a modern feedyard, precision agriculture is something you do every day—even if you aren't familiar with that definition. Every action you take to manage your cattle has a reason behind it. And technology enables you to take faster, and ultimately, better actions.

Technology offers a clear view of data. Exception reporting and exception management gives you the opportunity to spot potential problems and nip them in the bud.  In the near future, producers will rely on artificial intelligence to predict cattle health and cattle food consumption needs and to understand what products the feed yard will need. It is coming fast!

Technology in action

Technology helps producers in multiple segments of the feedyard: caring for the animals' health and feeding the animals. 

Animal health tracking systems facilitate better communication between you, as the producer, and your veterinarian. Such systems track the processing and treatment protocols the veterinarian prescribes to be given to the whole group at arrival or to a sick animal. This precision allows you to know what medications the cattle received, including dosages and frequency. Proactive communications on your herd's health, as enabled by this technology, helps your team build a stronger, more collaborative relationship with your veterinarian as well as maximizing your treatment efficacies. 

The technology generates interactive health reports on the level of the individual head of cattle. You can also zoom out to see health trends for the entire lot. If repeat illnesses occur, the data shows historically what products the veterinarian has recommended. They can use that information to decide on the best course of action, much like your physician analyzes your medical records when prescribing treatments.

Collecting data also helps to determine if the cattle has passed the withdrawal period and is safe to ship. This is the time between the last dose of a product with a withdrawal time and when the animal can be slaughtered for food. Safe to Ship reports are used on each pen of cattle prior to going to harvest to make sure all animals are clear of any withdrawal issues. Providing the consumer with a safe wholesome product is the number 1 goal. Micro’s system can also suggests alternate treatment protocols that would expedite shipping. 

Accurate record-keeping is also instrumental in verification programs, such as Progressive Beef. Such cattle commands higher prices, but you will have to undergo annual audits to validate your procedures, animal welfare and other processes meet the requirements of Progressive Beef.  Technology can provide the data to support such requirements and therefore, potentially increase your profit. 

Improving feed efficiencies

Feeding is another activity that technology can improve. More accurate measurements mean less feed waste, saving both costs and employee time.

Feeding technology measures and delivers the different rations, ensuring each batch of feed includes the correct ingredients. The system allows you to customize the batch with micronutrients based on a nutritionist's recommendations. As a producer, you can see at a glance when and how much your cattle are eating, when they got fed, what ration and all the information needed for real time feed management.  

Delivery technology uses GPS to track the feed to the right pen with the right ration at the right time. The technology records how much feed each animal got and electronically reports back to the feed management team without the need for the manual input of that information. Your employees can spend their energy on other activities.

Automation in the feedyard saves money. Besides labor, the feed mill is the most expensive component of your operation, so it makes sense to maximize its efficiency. One Micro Technologies client discovered their mill cost $500 per hour to run. They implemented the Pro Control Batching System feed batch system and reduced their output time by two hours each day.

These efficiencies mean the cattle's cost to reach their target weight is less. They get three square meals a day and it's the right ration and the right amount. No feed is wasted, cattle performance is maximized, and production cost are minimized. Raising healthy, happy cattle to help feed a hungry world, utilizing resources wisely, and try and make a living doing it. 

Supporting the workforce

Upgrades also reduce labor costs because it takes staff less time to feed the cattle. Technology enables employees to maximize their workday for more productivity. Their quality of life also improves, enabling them to spend more time on other activities like enjoying their family or having a cold beer. 

Technology also supplements a declining workforce. In agriculture, the employee population is getting older and retiring and there is not the workforce coming up behind them that wants to be in agriculture. Adding automation allows you to keep growing with less employees.

Continuing to offer innovative solutions, which bring efficiencies and value to our customers, is what makes Micro who we are. Autonomous vehicles, drone technology, UHF technology, artificial intelligence tools and mill automation are areas of focus for Micro. Feeding a hungry, ever growing, world population and using our resources wisely are part of our culture and thread. 

 

Integrated feed management

Real-time statistics on feed, health, and other data will impact your decision making.