What to consider when selecting a calving book app

SDSU Extension
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. — In today’s day and age, there is an app for many of the tasks livestock producers conduct each day, from keeping track of markets, banking and even calving records.

With so many options available, livestock producers looking to implement a calving app this calving season may become overwhelmed deciding which app to use.

“The famous saying you can’t manage what you don’t measure is true. Adaptation of new calving book apps can have a place in making recordkeeping easier and keep producers on track this calving season,” said Taylor Grussing, SDSU Extension cow/calf field specialist.

Grussing has some suggestions of things producers should consider when selecting the calving record app that is right for them.

Inputs: Apps should have inputs for cow inventory, sire inventory, along with calving data.

If the app is to be used year-to-year, check to see if new data can be added each year without removing old data.

An example of calving inputs to look for include:

• Calf identification number.

• Birth day/year.

• Birth weight.

• Sire/dam ID.

• Gender.

• Color.

• Calving ease score.

• Single/twin.

• Udder score.

• Teat score.

• Pasture location.

In addition to calving data, it might also be handy to select an app that includes breeding season and pregnancy check information within the same app.

Connectivity and Compatibility: Identify apps that can be used even when data or wifi services are not available.

The app will likely synch to an online storage system when cellular service becomes available, but may need to be set for this to occur and keep everyone using the app updated.

Also, if multiple people will be entering information, make sure all phones are compatible.

Lastly, if the calving app is being accessed by two users at the same time, ensure the app allows for data to be entered simultaneously.

Storage: What type of storage or data program does the app synch too?

Options may include online cloud storage, computer or record keeping programs. In addition, file type is important and should be in a format that data is easy to use and capable to generate reports as needed. Example file types may include text, excel, pdf or even breed specific database programs.

Also, producers should consider whether the app is compatible with a computer or iPad?

If apps are only accessible on a phone, it may be difficult to see mass quantities of data at one time, sort data or even print reports.

Fees: Most apps will offer a free-trial for 10 to 30 days before charging a monthly or yearly fee for services. Also, apps may vary in the amount of storage or number of animals that can be entered into the system.

Before paying for an app, make sure it provides the data storage you need and find out if extra animals can be added for a fee if that storage limit is met.

Additional Features: In addition to calving records, look for additional features such as breeding information, gestation calculator, semen tank inventory, grazing plan and weaning and pregnancy data.

For questions on this or other calving-related issues, contact Grussing or another SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist. A complete listing can be found at www.iGrow.org under the Field Staff icon.