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Service enhances cattle management tasks

Courtesy of AgriWebb AgriWebb mobile app in use with sheep herd
WATCH THE HERD: Bringing digital tools to herd management isn’t always easy. Australian startup AgriWebb is now in the United States with a ranch-focused service.
AgriWebb has created a ranch management data capture platform to help ranchers boost profits.

Kevin Baum and his partners are on a mission. They’re aiming to make it easy to digitize operations across the ranch and improve precision management. That’s a big job, but one Baum says when put to work, can make a big difference in an operation.

AgriWebb started in Australia, but the company recently opened offices in Denver. “I can quickly say it’s about cattle, but it’s about the whole ranch,” Baum says. He cofounded the company with Justin Webb and John Fargher in 2014.

Baum explains that the tool can help a producer focus on pastures, tasks, labor, medicines and feed. The idea is to help the producer ditch that notebook and get information into a system that can save it in a more formal manner. The service can be used with an app, but it stores information in the cloud for analysis and review later in the office.

That still means manual entry, but Baum says they’re working to simplify that. “We interface with all your standard weight heads, stick readers, all the hardware that you’d see with Bluetooth connection,” he says. “We are also plugging into some satellite imaging companies; we’re plugging into sensors that do water monitoring.”

And that work continues — but out of the box, the user would set up the herd, fields and start recording data. The system can help a producer optimize pasture use. It's possible, with the right connectivity tools, to visualize real-time locations for cattle using a smartphone.

And while the company is claiming users can save time in using the platform (more than 200 hours per year), the key is accurate information that’s recorded more easily than in the past.

Just getting started

Capturing information on any operation can be a challenge. The beauty of a digital approach is the ability to make the user interface easy. Preg-check cows? It’s easy to note in the record her status, date and other information at that time. The information is now stored for later analysis.

Baum notes that the company continues to work to add more interface with other software to improve management of all aspects of the operation. “We’re not there yet in the U.S. — we’re at the beginning,” he says. “It’s asking ourselves, ‘How do we make it really simple and intuitive?’ for the rancher to enter their data. But also, how do we plug into the ecosystem of tools that’s out there to automate that as much as possible?”

Whether it's digital farming tools that capture fieldwork information, or accounting programs so you can match herd practices with profits, AgriWebb is looking at a lot of enhancements for the future. “And it’s a never-ending project,” Baum says.

But he emphasizes one issue — this service is cattle-focused. “A lot of these automation [tools] are very crop-focused. That’s a very different mindset,” he notes.

Crops have a definite life cycle; but for cattle, it’s more complicated. When do you calve? What about recording estrus, downed animals? But Baum notes that the software goes beyond just collecting information.

“It’s about actually pulling that information together, doing the calculations so that you understand your cost of production, you understand the gross margins,” he says. This is information you can use to evaluate herd genetics and performance, but it goes beyond that.

Baum notes with this more detailed information, you can determine which pastures are performing best. “You can really improve your property, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve,” he says. “We don’t want to be a data graveyard; there's value in having easy access to data, but ultimately it’s about what you can do with that information to drive performance.”

AgriWebb is just getting started in the U.S. The firm is working with other information providers and companies that serve the cattle industry to link with for improved data capture. The base package for the service is $750 per year for one ranch and unlimited users, and it includes herd management, feed and medicine, basic reporting and support. For $2,400 per year, users also get ranch and mapping insights, grazing management, pasture management and task management, too. Learn more at agriwebb.com/us.

 

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