Cows in the cloud: Data at Loutzenhiser Cattle Company
Flagler, Colo., is home to Loutzenhiser Cattle company. Dallas and Meghan Loutzenhiser returned to the operation about 10 years ago after graduating from Colorado State University. Meghan is a data person and admits she’s been accused of being a nerd more than once.
Nerd or not, she maintains extensive cow herd records using CattleMax.
A Texas company, CattleMax representatives are all ranch-based and used the program on their own operation prior to joining the team.
The operation is a commercial cow calf operation and they raise their own replacement females, though they purchase bulls as well as utilize an AI program. The couple are also Genex representatives. A family operation, Dallas’ parents remain the majority cow owners and Dallas’ siblings also own cows in the herd.
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“One of the main reasons we began using the software was to keep track of ownership,” she said. “Previously, everyone owned a percentage of the cow herd but we didn’t really pick our own replacements and death loss was difficult to assign. Dallas’ parents always just shouldered that loss. Now, with the software, each individual owner has specific cows that are theirs so they’re able to pick specific replacements from those cows.”
If a calf loss occurs it is easily assigned to the correct cow and cattle sales are easily tracked as well, she said. A current cattle inventory is always at their fingertips as well as which cows are bred, which have calved, where they are located, and a variety of other information through the reports that have replaced the assortment of notes and Excel sheets common on many operations.
When a calf is born, she records the calf and it is attached in the program to the dam and when the dam is moved to another pasture, for example, the calf moves with her until weaning. The two stay connected and both are assigned to the proper owner. When a calf is promoted to a replacement female, they assign her a new tag but the data of the calf history is retained with dam, sire, birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight and contemporary groups. With 10 years of using the software, there is a tremendous amount of herd history available.
They utilize the letter system and calves born this year are assigned an H in front of their letter. The cow’s record will show all of her offspring, whether they were retained and her new cow number, which offspring was sold as a steer or heifer.
The program, she said, is intuitive and easy to use. It offers different levels of access so some users can look at reports and data without actually making changes, while others can have a more administrative role. There are reports available for tax and banking reporting purposes though she said she hasn’t tapped into that aspect as heavily. Quarterly expense reports are completed for each owner using the ownership data in the program. There are commercial and registered subscription levels, the registered level interfaces with breed association websites to allow easy access to EPDs and pedigrees. It also interfaces with EID tags and their Tru-Test scale head so each time cattle are brought through the chute, they are able to read the tag, gather a weight, and the scale file can be updated into CattleMax.
Even with the program, Dallas maintains a red book for calving and Meghan manually updates the program. It could certainly be done on a phone but many of the pastures have limited cell service, though the data will be stored until service is available. Treatment records and comments can also be added out in the pasture.
“The reporting is phenomenal,” she said. “You can pull ownership reports, pasture reports, age group reports, worksheets for preg checking. The reports can be a pdf or into Excel where it can be manipulated.”
CattleSoft, the parent company, includes CattleMax, the herd management software, an Allflex distributorship, and TruTest brand scales. Kristen Evans manages the company’s e-commerce and said the company was created by the Miller family in 1999 with a desktop version. In 2011, the software went cloud-based to allow users flexibility for device choice. The subscriptions begin at $9 per month with a 21-day free trial of the full software. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 768-0024.
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