What are the ‘must have’ grazing management software features?
There are some critical areas that any record keeping and planning system must perform in order to turn your time investment into objective data you can use to make decisions about the future. Some specific components grazing management software must include:
- Cloud storage and multi device accessibility
- Advanced grazing planning capabilities
- Up-to-date operational data
- Stocking rate forecasting
- Herd and pasture treatment record keeping
- Downloadable reports
- Technical and educational support
Most livestock producers are very busy, especially during the growing season when grazing planning is most critical. It’s a challenge to find time to sit down and power up the computer or spread a paper chart across the table in order to record or plan the grazing and record rainfall data for the week or month. In the effort of saving time, grazing management software clearly has a leg up over paper and spreadsheet based grazing planning. But there are many other advantages to a subscription-based software for grazing management.
1. Cloud based platform that is accessible by multiple users from multiple devices
Having your data stored in the cloud means you never have to worry about a system crash and losing all your hard work. No need to back up your hard drive for fear of losing your grazing records and plans. Cloud accessibility means that multiple people can access the data from all their devices, whether it be a tablet, laptop or smart phone, and know that they’re seeing the most up-to-date version. For livestock operations with multiple employees or stakeholders, this creates a seamless transfer of information.
MaiaGrazing users also have the option to enter info while in the paddock, even if a user is offline and no data service is available. We all know that the longer and harder the days work, the harder it is to remember to record the events of the day. It’s important that any recordkeeping system is ready and able to accept knew data whenever and wherever you are. The same can be said for referencing upcoming planned grazes. The MaiaGrazing mobile app will sync with the cloud-based account whenever the user returns to Wi-Fi or data service.
2. Advanced Grazing Planning Features
The way grazes are planned varies depending on the season. Grazing software should adapt to fit these situations. Advanced graziers plan differently and have separate objectives when the grass is growing fast vs. when grass growth has slowed. Grazing planning software should accommodate these scenarios with planning assistance geared toward meeting growing vs non-growing season grazing objectives. MaiaGrazing has both growing and non-growing season planning modules that help graziers achieve specific goals whether they be achieving desired rest periods or overall utilization levels. Using the planning modules can also help ensure target residual amounts are left to safeguard against over utilization.
Knowing how closely paddocks are stocked to overall carrying capacity gives managers piece of mind and a solid understanding of their reserve forage bank. Grazing management software should provide this objective data with minimal additional input from the grazier. MaiaGrazing provides Percentage of Carrying Capacity metrics for herds grazing specific groups of paddocks as well as Surplus Days Feed available.
In addition to grazing planning, grazing software should make RE-planning incredibly simple. The main purpose of making Plan A is to put yourself in a good position to make an informed transition to Plan B. And it should be just that, simple. Adjusting individual grazes, or an entire plan, should not require starting over from scratch.
With the MaiaGrazing software, adjusting historical or planned grazes is as easy as selecting the graze itself from the grazing chart, making the necessary adjustment and confirming the change. No need to adjust every subsequent graze to account for the change you made, the software auto-adjusts to save you time.
3. Grazing management software that supports real time operational data
Having real time operational data means you’re able to open your property map from any device and see mob locations, up-to-date paddock performance data, grazing history, current rolling rainfall data and upcoming herd moves. A laptop, desktop or tablet will allow you to also view pasture, livestock and rainfall analytics, meaning you can see your stocking rate per mm of rainfall currently as well as historically allowing you to gauge grass inventory and ability to hold your current position under the conditions present.
Accessible and real-time operational data is invaluable for absentee landowners, investors, or busy managers. For ease of compliance reporting or for auditability, cloud-based software is the most transparent and seamless platform to accomplish this. MaiaGrazing allows each account holder to grant access to as many users as they wish. So, for the grazier with multiple investors, employees, management consultants, and agency collaborators, nothing is as easy as group access to comprehensive management software.
4. Forecast Stocking Rate
For grass-based livestock operations, stocking rate decisions are among the most critical. When consequences can easily exceed the 6-figure mark, graziers need tools to help them arrive at a confident decision. That’s why MaiaGrazing created a forecasting tool that allows users to build future scenarios and gauge how they might adjust if “x”, “y” or “z” takes place. For example, they might create a rainfall forecast to determine how their stocking rate or overall stock-days might have to change to adapt to a drought situation. Many graziers talk about establishing a “trigger point”, or a date by which they must make a change if conditions haven’t been favorable. Forecasting, and allowing software to do the heavy lifting in terms of churning out the math, is what can help graziers set these guidelines for themselves without spending hours with a calculator working through the numbers.
They also might examine the opportunities they could capitalize on if the year brings above average rainfall. Determining, with some confidence, how many cattle they could bring in if they receive above average rainfall through the spring months is what forecasting can provide. It doesn’t take too many realized opportunities, or train wrecks avoided, to more than cover the cost of the grazing management software. Understanding how to manage stocking rate & carrying capacity is critical to any grazing business and grazing application.
5. Herd and Pasture Treatment Record keeping
Herd and pasture treatment recordkeeping should be tied in with grazing records. It just makes sense to have the capabilities to record this information with software that you’re already using to plan and record mob moves. This way everything is kept in one place and is easily referenced. Whether the purpose of these records is for compliance reporting or for financial recordkeeping, both MaiaGrazing Lite and Pro are great options for capturing these records.
For LPA compliance and biosecurity purposes, producers need to show they’ve have met the necessary regulatory standards for both animal health and farm chemical applications. In addition, producer may want to track farm chemical costs throughout the year to incorporate into their budget. These reports are easily generated and downloadable from their MaiaGrazing account.
Tracking increased production as a result of fertilizer applications is also something that grazing management software should enable you to do. MaiaGrazing tracks total forage consumption per acre, so marrying this data with fertilizer costs will allow you to easily calculate return on investment for pasture inputs.
6. Exportable Reports
Your data should never be “stuck” inside your chosen software. It’s your data after all, MaiaGrazing generates CSV downloads so users can download their grazing data to share with whomever they need to. With a CSV export, further data analysis or manipulation via spreadsheet is easy.
7. Grazing Management Software Technical Support, Service and Education
All reputable software products include support and help with set up and training. Requesting support shouldn’t mean long periods of being on-hold and navigating a series of automated questions to [maybe] arrive with a specialist who can help you. The MaiaGrazing support team is comprised of livestock producers who use the software in their own operations. Users are fully supported through the onboarding process and after.
MaiaGrazing believes that ongoing educational opportunities to help you apply software analytics to real-life situations will help insure your continued success. So, they offer free webinars and training events that go beyond the MaiaGrazing products themselves and explore the applicability of data in all livestock management decisions to help you achieve greater profitability over the long haul.