By Sandy Johnson, extension beef specialist, Colby, KS
Most of our farming and ranching enterprises would welcome a little more help from time to time. That additional help can be hard to find or find with the skills desired. In other cases, hiring help may put too much strain on the budget. One-way cow/calf producers can make the time they do have go a bit further is by using an electronic personal assistant called the Management Minder. It keeps track of key dates and activities as they relate to managing the herd and shows them to you on an electronic calendar. Reminders automatically pop-up on your smart phone based on your inputs. There is some investment of time initially to set it up, but from that point on, it’s on the job working for you. You can find the Management Minder at www.KSUBeef.org/managementminder.
The Management Minder is specific for your particular calving and breeding schedule. If you start calving March 1, it will remind you to start nighttime feeding to promote daytime calving on Feb. 15. If you are going to use an insect growth regulator as part of your fly control program, feeding should start by the last week in March for SE KS and by the first week in April in NW KS to be most effective. The Management Minder provides a reminder in case you are not thinking about fly control when you are making mineral purchases in March.
The Minder will also prompt you to take body condition scores at key times of the year. Measuring body condition is critical to managing feed costs and performance. Based on the weaning date you set, it will allow you to plan a vaccination schedule and provide reminders to have all supplies ordered well in advance of the planned vaccination.
For some things, the exact day the item is addressed (i.e. assess cow body condition at weaning) may not be critical. Rather it is more important that the scores are collected and recorded. Some of us are experts at putting things off and at some point, there can be a significant cost to doing so. The prime example is the weight cows need to put on during the third trimester to account for fetal growth. It is easier and cheaper to feed a cow to gain 150 pounds in 90 days, rather than in 30 days. Each day delayed requires a slightly higher rate of gain. This is just one example of a date that can slip by us with tremendous negative consequences.
So how do you find and use the Management Minder? Go to www.KSUBeef.org/managementminder. The first step is to register for an account. This allows you to roll your dates over to the next year and or share with your veterinarian or other team members. Select the items you want to include in your calendar, email program output to yourself and import into Outlook, Google or Yahoo calendars. You can print the calendar and or use it on your computer and smart phone. The program’s opening page contains a user guide and list of items you can include in your calendar.
So for 2019, resolve to develop a yearlong production calendar specific for your cow/calf operation to help with planning and timely management. The Management Minder can’t feed cows for you, but it can remind you to take steps that will save you time and money. For more information or help with the Management Minder contact Sandy Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org.