With a wealth of data available in the beef sector, it can be hard to know which to focus on and the best way of recording/calculating it.
Apps on a mobile phone or tablet device can make some of this easier – whether it be keeping track of herd performance, comparing prices or calculating grass growth and fertiliser requirements.
With more than 4 million apps available across Android and Apple Stores, selecting which ones to download can be a bewildering choice.
Here, we have selected a cross-section of just 12 that could make the work of beef farmers a little easier.
AHDB Beef & Lamb Lite
Type: Management information
App function: Provides the latest market and deadweight prices. It also has an auction search function so you can compare prices locally.
A “technical library” hosts how-to documents and videos and can be downloaded to create a personalised, offline technical manual.
The app includes localised weather forecasts and a newsfeed displaying AHDB updates.
Rating: 4.4/5 stars
Type: Input management
App function: Allows individual farms to compare prices and receive quotes from multiple suppliers for feed, fuel, fertiliser, seed, chemicals and equipment.
Suppliers respond with competitive quotes within minutes and any transactions are carried out through the app.
The app logs transactions and displays them graphically, showing expenditure and savings made.
Rating: 4.8/5 stars from 11 ratings
Type: Livestock recording and management
App function: Registers calf births, manages breeding-cycle information, stores animal movements and holds individual health records.
Uses the smartphone camera to scan barcodes or QR codes to capture information such as medicine use, batch numbers and expiry dates for compliance purposes.
It includes optical character recognition technology, which enables the smartphone to read numbers and text, making it easier and safer to log livestock tag details at a distance.
The smartphone’s Bluetooth capability is also exploited to integrate with other smart devices such as EID systems and weigh scales.
Cost: Free trial. Full-scale app costs £99-£159/year ex-VAT
Rating: 4.7/5 stars from 135 ratings
Provider: FRS Herdwatch
Farmwizard Beef Manager
Type: Beef herd management
App function: Enables farmers to record farm data on breeding, herd health, cattle movements and field records.
The app connects to government databases and uses Bluetooth-connected EID readers and weigh heads to log records.
Data can be stored using the voice recorder to save time and keep the phone cleaner.
All information is cloud-based, allowing users to view records anywhere and synchronise data when internet access is available.
Cost: App needs a FarmWizard software account to run.
The whole software package, including the app, is a minimum of £299/year and is dependent on herd size.
Rating: 3.6/5 stars from 11 ratings
Type: Fertiliser management
App function: Smartphone-based version of AHDB’s Nutrient Management Guide (RB209) offering best-practice guidance on the application of mineral fertilisers, manures and slurries to crops and grassland.
The app includes automatic updates on new advice or governing policy, a note-taking facility and video content.
The content is available without a mobile connection once downloaded.
Rating: 4.7/5 stars from three ratings
Type: Grassland management
App function: The full version allows farmers to monitor grass growth and provides advice on management actions required.
The app was developed by Aberystwyth University and calculates yield and usage from a number of parameters, including sward height, grazing system, stock type and previous grass measurements.
Feedback is provided in a traffic-light graphic indicating whether a field is producing the optimal yield for stock or too much or too little grass.
Cost: £5.99 or free version with a limited functionality
Provider: Aber Trading
Rating: 2.8/5 stars from 11 ratings
Stock Move Express
Type: Stock movement management
App function: The app is linked to Shearwell’s NLMD online management software and connects to BCMS to send cattle births, movements and deaths.
It can also record medicine stocks, treatments and procedures, along with cattle performance by logging weights and growth rates.
Cost: Free for limited functionality or three-month trial version. Full version £30/year
Provider: Shearwell Data
Rating: 4.5/5 stars from 26 ratings
InTouch Forage Budgeting
Type: Feed management
App function: The app is designed to simplify feed management by calculating total forage available in both fresh weight and dry matter from clamped and baled stocks.
The user inputs the dry matter and the clamp dimension or bale weight along with the forage required during housing.
The app then determines if the farmer has a sufficient forage stock or needs to source more feed.
Provider: Jack Yu/Alltech
Rating: No ratings
Type: Herd management
App function: Helps herd managers record information, including movements, breeding information, medicine administration and drafting.
The app can set up files that can be exported to medicine, herd and flock books. It can also record data on individual or group breeding and weight gains.
It links to Allflex’s RS420 EID Reader to capture data via Bluetooth but does not require internet connection.
This is only required for installation of the app and updates or to email and export files. Data held is compatible with CTS/BCMS for easy data transfer.
Cost: Free version with limited functionality or iLivestock unlimited at £199
Provider: Duradiamond Software
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 from four ratings
Availability: The app is available to download on Apple devices.
Calving Calculator Ad Free
Type: Android-based gestation cycle calculator
App function: The app was designed for beef farmers and calculates cattle gestation cycles.
It provides the breeding date as well as return, calving, and weaning dates for the offspring.
The number of days in the different periods can be adjusted to match the specifics of a herd.
Rating: 4.3/5 stars from 39 ratings
Availability: The app is available to download on Android devices.
Moocall Breed Manager
Type: Breeding management
App function: The app supports breeding herd management allowing users to input cattle details and calculate due dates, calving events and the historical calving tendencies of the herd and individual animals.
Although the app works independently, it can be used in conjunction with the Moocall Calving Sensor, which sends notifications announcing imminent calvings.
Provider: John Larkin
Rating: 4/5 stars from 78 ratings
Foot Looker Lite
Type: Hoof treatment guide
App function: Documents hoof trimming with individual recording of any treatment provided.
The app provides a colour-coded, graphic representation of the cows’ hooves, showing where treatment has been administered.
It also provides an alarm function, warning farmers when further treatment should be given.
It includes a database that stores the treatment regime for each cow that can be exported in PDF format to other software systems
Provider: MH Software Solutions
Rating: 5/5 stars from two ratings
Availability: The app is available to download on Android devices.