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
The program purchase costs range from $149 to $600. 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 a questionnaire completed by a software company representative. 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. John L. Evans, Dr. Sally L. Northcutt, Christina Higgins, and Randy True who had significant input in previous versions of this Extension publication.
Farm Works™ Stock
Farm Works Software®
A Division of Trimble
P.O. Box 250
Hamilton, IN 46742
Contact: Scott Nusbaum
Livestock Manager Software
Cow Calf 007
1436 W. 4020 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84123
Contact: Teri Vaughn
Midwest MicroSystems, L.L.C.
3100 O. Street, Suite 7
Lincoln, NE 58150-1532
Phone: 800-584-0040 / 402-323-6969
Web Site: http://cowsense.com
Contact: Tim Davis, Vice President
P.O. Box 2647
College Station, TX 77841
Web Site: http://www.cattlemax.com
Contact: Penny Miller
THE Beef Cattle fIRM
University of Tennessee
315 John R. Rice Blvd. Ste 101
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Web Site: http://economics.ag.utk.edu/firm.html
Contact: Kevin Ferguson
Global Livestock Management Systems, LLC
1725 Dryden Road
Sadieville, KY 40370
Contact: Kathie Williams
Prime Plus: Registered with interface
Choice Plus: Commercial with interface
Standard: Small Registered
Select: Small Commercial
Wolf Creek Cow/Calf (Commercial, Commercial with Report Writer, and Production)
Wolf Creek Software
203 West 7th Street
Miller, SD 57362
Contact: David Van Heuvelen
Benyshek and Hough Consulting Services, Inc.
GEM Data Management Capability
1860 Barnett Shoals Rd., PMB 103-453
Athens, GA 30605
Phone: 706-296-9757 or 706-202-5538
Contact: Larry Benyshek
294 E. Mill St. # 209
Elora, ON N0B
Web Site: http://www.bridgingintelligence.com
Contact: Betty-Jo Almond
• 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:
AGEC-222, Cow-Calf Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA)
Helpful Web sites
Farm Financial Management Resources:
Quicken materials for farm financial records:
Animal Science Resources:
Extension Beef Cattle Specialist
Assistant Extension Specialist, Agricultural Economics
Extension Economist and Regents Professor