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Acquiring true livestock traceability

A new mobile tool created by a Canadian producer co-operative offers producers the ability to capture livestock data in the field with the device that is already in their pocket

An Ontario-based producer co-operative has developed a mobile system which can provide true traceability in livestock production.

A new mobile tool created by a Canadian producer co-operative offers producers the ability to capture livestock data in the field with the device that is already in their pocket

A data-management platform from an Ontario producer co-operative is promising birth-to-sale traceability made easy.

BIO, based in Elora, Ont., has designed three systems that work in conjunction with each other to offer mobile traceability from the birth of the calf to the sale of the final product.

The future of the beef industry is data intensive, BIO’s business development manager Betty-Jo Almond told a March seminar in Brandon, organized by the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiative (MBFI).

“Having the ability to track and retain data in a timely manner is and will be a major issue,” said Almond. “Pressures are mounting to provide traceability and producers should expect collecting, documenting and sharing on-farm data to (become) the norm.”

Some don’t welcome the dawn of the information age in the pasture and feedlot, but the industry as a whole is poised to benefit from the shift, Almond said.

“The minute that you start collecting data and have the ability to transfer it across sectors in the value chain there are benefits to everyone in the entire system,” Almond said. “Carcass information is able to get back to the producers where decisions are being made that ultimately impact the end product.”

Manitoba already has some users and Almond expects many more.

“The Manitoba beef test station is just starting to get up and running with the program and we have had a lot of really strong interest from the area, Almond said. “We have partnered with MBFI and we are going to work with them to have a few speaking opportunities and different opportunities to talk with producers at their Brandon location.”

Data on devices

BIO first developed bioTrack, a subscription-based record-keeping system, suitable for verified beef production, that allows producers to document pedigree, breeding, pregnancy checks, calving, vaccinations, movements, weight, treatments and sales and expenses.

Go360, a system BIO released last fall, takes it a step further by allowing for mobile use of the bioTrack system on any device.

“We didn’t design an app for Apple, Android or BlackBerry, we went the route of using HTML5 coding. It makes the browser of your device act like the app,” said Almond. “So, it doesn’t matter what device you are accessing this on.”

The web-based system allows you to capture and manage information while in the field with the device that is already in your pocket.

“There is a real time-saving factor. Once you are done handling the animals you don’t have to now do something with the data you just spent all day collecting. You are storing that data as you collect it,” said Almond.

Data can be captured and accessed any time, even out of Internet range.

“There is the disconnect feature that allows you to download the herd information to your device,” Almond said. “You can download everything or specifics.”

Through the partnership of the two programs, reports can be generated on animal or herd history, animal production, sire summary, genetic scorecards and weekly updated genetic evaluations.

Birth data is automatically uploaded every six hours to Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, creating automatic age verification and eliminating the need for double entry of data.

Acquiring this information can also benefit producers in gathering a better understanding of where operational improvements could be made, keeping track of herd health and maintaining access to all marketing options.

“This can really open doors for producers because if the quality of the product that they are producing is really strong, having that traceability gives you the backing of your claims to buyers,” Almond said.

Linking carcass to source

BIO’s third program, BioLinks is designed to track sales and inventory of on-farm products.

BioLinks has the ability to link meat products back to the carcass and animal history through RFID numbers, creating a trail of information from birth of the calf to sale of a rib-eye.

“We are currently just refining what information is transferred but things like age of animal, breed, health, treatments, and source details would really help the processing facility and other aspects of the value chain,” said Almond.

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About the author


Jennifer Paige

Jennifer Paige is a reporter centred in southwestern Manitoba. She previously wrote for the agriculture-based magazine publisher, Issues Ink and was the sole-reporter at the Minnedosa Tribune for two years prior to joining the Manitoba Co-operator.



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