Cow-Calf Production Record Software
Producers who have computers frequently ask about the availability of software programs to handle cow-calf production records. Before purchasing a software program, it is important to analyze the value of such a system with regards to making better management decisions. Producers should evaluate their existing records to determine the types of information sought from a software program. Are inventory records important? Are summary reports of primary interest? By considering specific record needs, the producer is better equipped to choose an appropriate software package. The hardest steps to valuable recordkeeping are (1) making time for recordkeeping, (2) determining the herd information that is economically feasible to collect and (3) summarizing the herd data for use in the decision-making process.
If the cow-calf operator is not currently keeping any records on herd performance, a good starting point may be some basic calf crop records, cow information (if individual identification is used), calving and weaning percentages, inventory numbers, number of females exposed to the bull(s), etc. Seedstock and commercial cow-calf producers have different needs. Also, herd size can influence the degree of detail that a producer is willing or able to assemble on the cattle.
Meaningful cow-calf records may be handwritten or computerized. Monthly calendars, journals and Integrated Resource Management Redbooks are a few examples of handwritten record systems. The choice of programs, features, and cost of software are the “fine-tuning” portion of recordkeeping. In the following summary of nine commercially available cow-calf software packages, the features are described under six headings:
- Cow Information
- Sire Information
- Calf Information
- Herd Information
- Computer Requirements
- Additional Considerations
Some programs are a one-time purchase while others require annual or monthly subscriptions. The program costs range from $149 to $600 for a one-time purchase. Subscriptions range from $4.85/month to $85/month and $40/year to $950/year. Many software companies offer program demonstration copies for free. Programs have various computer requirements such as minimum processor type and speed, minimum RAM, operating system, hard disk space and monitor needs. Most programs provide comprehensive cow, calf and sire data entry fields as well as herd production summaries.
Many of the programs accommodate both commercial and seedstock cattle needs. Seedstock producers should check with their breed association for software package availability and recommendations prior to purchasing software for registered cattle records.
Before purchasing any software, determine the level and cost of software support that will be provided by the company. In addition, some programs have specific cattle information that is required before the program will work. Sorting applications and the type of reports generated may vary, but in many cases producers have the opportunity to customize reports to meet specific needs. Another important feature may include the ability to query or search the data for specific animal information. Every cow-calf operator must determine the amount of time available to devote to practical recordkeeping and weigh this commitment against software costs, data entry features and desired summary reports.
Information provided about the following programs was taken from software websites. Oklahoma State University does not endorse the software programs listed in this publication, but the information is believed to be true. The summary does not cover all available packages or individual program features. Programs may have other capabilities that are not described in the summary. Producers should contact the respective companies for purchase information, details on features and specific hardware requirements.
Authors want to recognize Dr. Damona Doy and Dr. David Lalman who had significant input in previous versions of this Extension publication.
Ranch Manager Open
White Mountains Livestock Company, LLC
Digital Beef, LLC
Cow Calf Manager
8456 Broadway, Ste. 250
San Antonio, TX 78217
Midwest MicroSystems, L.L.C.
245 S. 84th Street, Ste. 218
Lincoln, NE 68510
Web Site: http://cowsense.com
Contact: Tim Davis, Vice President
1511 Texas Ave S., #256
College Station, TX 77840
Web Site: http://www.cattlemax.com
THE Beef Cattle fIRM
University of Tennessee
Dept. of Agricultural and Resource Economics
314 Morgan Hall, 2621 Morgan Circle
Knoxville, TN 37996
Web Site: arec.tennesse.edu/the-beef-cattle-firm/
Global Livestock Management Systems, LLC
1725 Dryden Road
Sadieville, KY 40370
Prime Plus: Registered with interface
Choice Plus: Commercial with interface
Standard: Small Registered
Select: Small Commercial
GEM Data Management Capability
Benyshek and Hough Consulting Services, Inc.
1860 Barnett Shoals Rd., PMB 103-453
Athens, GA 30605
294 E. Mill St. # 209
Elora, ON N0B 150
- All programs have on-screen or printed input forms, as well as on-screen/printed summary reports available.
- Almost all of the programs are designed for both commercial and registered (seedstock, purebred) cow herd types.
- Free-format comment areas (note pages) are available.
- User defined fields, when available, allow input of data not otherwise specified. For example, if the vendor representative indicated ‘no’ for ‘management code,’ a user-defined entry field could be added for these data.
Some of the programs generate Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) production values. Additional information on SPA is available in this OSU Fact Sheet:
Helpful Web sites
Farm Management and Finance Resources:
Quicken materials for farm financial records:
Animal and Food Science Resources:
Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics
Assistant Extension Specialist, Agricultural Economics