A Rancher’s Investment for Information

Published on Tue, 08/24/2021 - 12:15pm

A Rancher’s Investment for Information.

 Article and photography by Elizabeth Parks, ABAC Agricultural Communication student.
 Contributor: Dr. Deidre Martin

 An investment in real-time information leads to better cattle management decisions. Better decisions result in lower costs and higher profitability.

Ranchers play the role of caretaker and business owner. As a caretaker, the rancher must choose which feed to use to meet nutritional needs. As a business owner, a rancher must determine when cattle are market-ready to ensure profitability.

ClicRweight Bovine Solution is partnering with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia to introduce this exciting new technology to the cattle industry.  “The data collected and presented provides ranchers with insight and knowledge about their cattle,” Dr. Audrey Luke-Morgan, ABAC Associate Professor of Agribusiness said. “Ranchers can efficiently monitor the changes in their cattle on a schedule that works for them. They can use the information gained to make effective management decisions related to production and marketing.”

With RFID sensors for identification and overhead cameras for photography, the ClicR scaleless weighing system pairs an algorithm with pictures to give an extremely accurate weight for each bovine. The technology is installed above troughs providing a clean source of water in a shelter and is therefore integrated into the daily routine of cattle.

“Ranchers benefit by having access to multiple data points, which helps with planning and directing their operations. Once customers understand the value that this product can bring to them in terms of higher revenue and lower cost, I feel certain that they will be willing to adopt this technology,” Dr. Lucia Ona, ABAC Assistant Professor of Agribusiness said.

The ClicR Bovine Solution records average daily gain, which leads to an accurate prediction of when cattle are ready for market. “If cattle are sold when they are known to meet market weights, feed costs may be reduced. In the highly volatile cattle and grain markets, ClicRweight Bovine Solution provides information for ranchers to effectively monitor and compare the cost of gain relative to the change in the market value of the cattle,” Luke-Morgan said. “A fundamental factor for a rancher to capitalize on these potential benefits is the ability to sort, select, and deliver the cattle identified as market-ready in a timely manner.”

“With a more accurate, data-driven decision about when cattle are ready for the market, ranchers can maximize their annual revenues and profits,” Dr. Olumide Aborisade, ABAC Assistant Professor of Agribusiness said. “As more ranchers use ClicR to regularly monitor livestock weight, it will be possible to synchronize with feed companies regarding nutritional supplements, additives, and feed deliveries. This information has the potential to revolutionize the animal feed industry through devising feed mixes and programs that could reduce the cattle production cycle even further.”

The founders of ClicRweight Bovine solution saw the opportunity to decrease the stress of cattle weighing on both handlers and cattle. “Because weights are captured as cattle naturally come to drink water, they do not endure any unnecessary stress of being penned, hauled, handled, and then possibly hauled again,” Luke-Morgan said.

Dr. Aborisade mentioned that as with any business venture, losses subtract from profits. “Raising cattle is an investment. Reducing incidences of injury and mortality reduces operational costs that would otherwise result from having the personnel to monitor and treat injured animals, and the actual loss of the animal.”

Since time is money, a scaleless weighing system mitigates labor costs. With labor shortages across the nation, a decreased workload means less stress on the rancher. “A reduced workforce equates to lower expenses related to wages or salaries. These cost savings result in higher profits. In turn, those profits can be reinvested within the operation to help with the capital cost of adopting new technology,” Luke-Morgan said.

Many of the data trends have the potential to influence areas outside of the ranch. The supply chain, from producer to consumer, can benefit from increased efficiency. “The data can be incorporated into systems used by processors to monitor cattle ready for the market, animal breeders for breed improvement, feed companies for more efficient food mixes, and other stakeholders in the cattle industry whose access to such information could improve service delivery,” Aborisade said.

Ranchers that implement the scaleless weighing system should focus their marketing to emphasize the efficiency of their production methods. “Customers are attracted to benefits rather than features. This objective can be achieved through their promotional strategies, in which the marketing techniques highlight the benefits of using the ClicR system,” Ona said.

Luke-Morgan added that the benefits of the technology such as the ClicR system reach far beyond finances or time. The true value is found in the information. “When assessing the value-added to your operation, it is important to note that one of the biggest drivers of the success of any newly adopted technology is the full use of the information provided. The information and knowledge gained from ClicRweight Bovine Solution can lead to a comparative advantage for the rancher. While a non-user may follow the market and use other measures to track his cattle, it is likely less effective and efficient,” Luke-Morgan said.

With new developments for ClicRtechnologies, the possibilities for innovation and application in the agribusiness world are constantly evolving. “American agriculture has seen significant gains in productivity over the last century, much of which has been driven by technological advances. Agricultural technology has quickly developed into an independent industry that focuses on an operation’s efficiency, profitability, and safety. The current pace of business, volatility of markets, population growth, resource scarcity, and changing consumer tastes and preferences will promote the continued expansion of technology into new areas of agriculture,” Luke-Morgan said.

Proper management of our resources is essential in securing and developing our world for future generations. Expedited production cycles will help grow the market and create better businesses. Modern ranchers can invest in the future by investing in a direct link to information. Decisions require a focus on efficiency and effectiveness. Not only do pros and cons have to be weighed, but ranchers also have to weigh their cattle. “ClicRtechnologies is at the forefront of this frontier for the cattle industry,” Luke-Morgan said.

This article is the fifth in a series of six articles discussing the implementation of ClicRweight Bovine Solution at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The final article will provide reflections on the partnership as we look to the future.