Two tools are available to remind breeders of management and reproductive schedules.
by Kasey Brown, senior associate editor
DES MOINES, Iowa (Sept. 7, 2016) — In reproduction, attention to detail is crucial to success. Unfortunately, a few things done incorrectly can override those done correctly.
“You have to use the right product on the right day at the right time in the right amount,” said Sandy Johnson, Extension specialist and associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University (K-State).
There are two digital tools now available to help breeders with the timing of reproduction and cattle management. She presented overviews of those two tools to attendees of the 2016 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 7-8.
While some in agriculture may feel wary of technology, feedback has shown both tools to be easy to use. She noted that users don’t have to be “Excel wizards,” but should have a basic understanding of the computer program.
The Estrus Synchronization Planner (ESP) is a computer, web-based program developed at Iowa State University that is designed to assist cattlemen in selecting an appropriate synchronization protocol for cows or heifers, utilizing heat detection, fixed-time AI or a combination.
Users enter the day and time they want to begin breeding, and the planner calculates the day and even the hour that each protocol treatment, including product name and dosages, should be administered. The dates then transfer to a printable calendar, which Johnson said is important to check to ensure the planned dates will work for your operation.
The ESP lets cattlemen compare systems, too. Cattlemen can input the size of their herd and enter how many females can be bred per hour. The planner then projects how many females can be bred within three to four hours.
A recent addition includes the date of prostaglandin administration. Prostaglandin intervals require time-of-day considerations, and the planner helps you make sure the timeline is feasible.
Johnson said the planner is designed to be just that — a planner. She shared examples from users wanting to know if they could use something else or shift timelines because they didn’t realize they didn’t have time to administer the appropriate drug when needed. When using the program before administering protocols, cattlemen can explore the planner’s features by using the help tabs or comments, signified by a red triangle in the Excel document.
The planner can be downloaded, free of charge, from the Iowa Beef Center website, www.iowabeefcenter.org/estrus_synch.html. There are also training videos available on the ESP page. Before downloading, users must register so they can receive notices of program updates, she said.
It also has a mobile-friendly version, which needs Internet access to use, but is available at www.estrussynch.com.
The second tool Johnson overviewed is called Management Minder.
“This program is your personal assistant in keeping key dates in front of you,” Johnson said of the assistant developed by K-State.
It is based on key management decisions, like the start of the breeding season, grass turnout, weaning day and sale day. She explained that it incorporates notices or tasks on a digital calendar, whether Outlook or mobile calendars. The dates are based on default intervals from key management dates that you input on your herd.
“This tool gives reminders for things we know we need to do but are easy to put off for a few days, but they affect quite a few things in your herd,” she added. It can be downloaded at http://cowweb.exnet.iastate.edu/CowWeb/faces/, and has a shorter overview video and a longer training video available.
Johnson spoke during Wednesday’s ARSBC session focused on "doing it right." Visit the Newsroom at www.appliedreprostrategies.com, which features comprehensive coverage of the symposium, to view her PowerPoint, read the proceedings or listen to the presentation. Compiled by the Angus Media editorial team, the site is made possible through sponsorship by the Beef Reproduction Task Force.