More than a year ago I began trying Maia Grazing's farm recordkeeping program and I have been experimenting with it from that time through today.
Initially, my idea was to try the free version of a Maia's computer program into which I could put data from my smartphone at the farm and have it available later at home for analysis. Colin Feilen, Maia's Executive Channel Manager, offered me the chance to try the higher-function Pro version, so I took it.
Perhaps first of all, I have learned that in its paid-subscriber form, Maia Grazing is a powerful predictive and economic program, albeit a program tied to grazing performance and livestock numbers. It is still being built and constantly upgraded. These analytical abilities seem far above my abilities to fully use, and perhaps beyond my needs on a small operation with a single herd.
Large operations running many permanent paddocks and multiple herds should find this program very useful.
The functions in the "Planning" and "Analytics" tabs are available only in the paid version. This is where grazing planning and forage forecasting is done. For example, the grazing planning section allows you to input pasture/paddock conditions and expected days of use. This helps you actually build a grazing plan on an electronic chart, as many good managers build grazing plans on paper grazing charts. In turn, this data can feed into a graph that combines forage, livestock numbers and rainfall to show whether you are understocked or overstocked on a rolling basis.
One of the things I was most interested in is mapping functions. I use all temporary electric fencing and when my paddocks are oddly shaped, I need something to tell me paddock acreage. It would also be nice to have these maps in some form I could store for two or three years and refer back to. Maia still is not able to do this. It uses fixed paddock boundaries and has no extra mapping or measuring capacity. Feilen says the company is working to upgrade this type of temporary mapping for future use, but it's not there yet.
Instead, currently I am using a smartphone app called Fields Area Measure, the free version, which can combine GPS locations with manual measuring. I sometimes use another app called Back-Country Navigation to measure and/or save some of the paddock shapes and sizes for a brief time. Neither is satisfactory.
Another of my struggles, as a small-sized part-timer, is trying to decide where to put information that I can find later. For example, if when I bale grazed last winter to improve the soil and seed bank in one area, I struggled with where to put it. Feilen told me I could simply list it in the pasture treatments and adjust the days of forage used or animal days per acre downward to match. These things would come more naturally to me if I were using the program to input a lot more events and data.
Maia allows you to input financial data for your various stock classes. It also lets you record things like births, deaths, or transfers from one stock class to another. An example of this might be moving growing heifers to the classification of cows.
Feilen says the inventory and ranch management portion of the software is becoming more popular for ranchers, regardless of whether they are managed graziers.
Functionality between smartphone to computer is fully integrated, although I personally find the computer interface a little more well-designed and easy to manipulate than the smartphone version.
Grazing plans let you set up moves through a series or group of paddocks. You can schedule based on past performance or alter it based on current pasture conditions and rainfall. It can be altered at any time. Multiple herds, single herd, different stock classes and different species; it all can be planned and executed or changed.
Also, all users on your account can make changes and make notes in the events history, observations and treatment history. So multiple employees or team members can be on the same platform.
For me, familiarity is the key to function. For the way my brain works, the more time I can spend and the more frequently I can do it, the more successfully I use this program.
The last thing I'll share is this: If you are wanting an all-in-one ranch recordkeeping program, my experience says Maia Grazing is likely not that platform. It is built around grazing management as the base.
Maia Grazing has a free version with many functions available, but not the higher-end financial analysis. The price of the paid version depends on the size and number of livestock in your operation. Get more information at https://www.maiagrazing.com/features/