Billings – As the end of the year approaches, many ranchers are looking at ways to invest in their operation’s long term profitability. In an industry that literally weighs our profitability in pounds, taking a closer look at how well you know your livestock can have a large impact on your bottom line.
Management tools like Gallagher Weighing and Electronic Identification Systems (EID) can be a powerful resource for not only understanding the weight of each animal, but also quickly and accurately keeping records across your entire herd.
We spoke with Ray Williams, Technical and Support Advisor for Gallagher Animal Management to learn how a scales and EID system may benefit ranchers in Northern Ag Network Country.
What kind of rancher can benefit from a weighing or EID system?
Anyone who is raising livestock. From cattle, to goats, to bison, to sheep. Pricing is the biggest motivator for ranchers because your margins are so tight. Knowing where your animals are, knowing how many you have, and knowing how much it costs to grow your animals. A profit is realized when you know your numbers, and a scale system like that from Gallagher takes the guess work out.
You say “any” rancher, but not of all of us are that tech savvy. What if I really just want to know an animal’s weight, is it worth the investment?
We sell more of the basic scale systems than any other product. A producer who just needs verification of weight or who is concerned about average daily gain or other basic information, this is a big part of Gallagher’s business.
We’ve developed equipment that is very, very intuitive and very easy to capture data at chute side and use it to make better decisions.
Not to mention, what’s really cool about our system is the help menu is right on the screen. There is no manual to read and we’re always available to, I’ve got people that will call me chute side and say ‘Hey, I got a question on this.’
Is a basic scale system challenging to operate?
It’s easy. All you do is turn it on and the animal comes on the scale and you get an instant weight. Those that don’t have data collection systems can write the information down in a book or just have it recorded right in the system and it will merge with your existing records. Much easier than relying on your chicken scratch and dual recording.
I have a customer that told me straight out pointing to his flip phone ‘This is not going to go well, I’m not a techie at all’. He ran the first cow in and the weight came up on the scale and he said ‘That isn’t right.’ We checked his written record and the animal had gained a few pounds a day for the last period of time. He was amazed that he could see history information right there. Every time you weigh an animal that has been weighed before you can see their history. He said ‘How’d you do that? That’s like magic’. Of course, he didn’t know that we had imported some of the operations data into the system already. Anyhow, I got him working on that scale in no time at all. That day we ran 150 cows through the chute.
That gentleman ended up using the chute every day for breeding or vet sessions and even though he doesn’t even text he called me a little while later to tell me how excited he was about a report he set-up!
Do I need to buy lots of equipment to get going?
If you don’t have a chute, or don’t want to lift your chute with load bars you can always just use a tray in the alley with load bars and the animal will step into and you can weigh it that way.
Or if you have a squeeze chute like a Silencer we’ve got a specialized weight foot that lifts the scale up on all four corners.
What would you recommend for a seedstock producer?
If you are selling any high value animals, it really pays in terms of time invested in record-keeping to have a scale system where you can easily document all the data you need from the QR code of a specimen, EPD or sire data, vaccination or worming doses, or even if you want to make a note of something unique that happened in an animal’s life cycle.
If you use visual tags, or EID tags the information will be compatible.
Do you have to have a special kind of Electronic Identification tag?
Gallagher doesn’t make EID tags, but we focus on the equipment to read those tags. Our scale systems can read any ISO compliant EID tags. Whether you are using Allflex or Templetag or Z -tag, all use a 15-digit number, all completely unique. They all will be easily read by our system. You can buy them in numbered sets that match visual tag on the other ear. When you put the visual tag in the ear the EID tag is automatically uploaded and recorded.
Why do you recommend Gallagher as the brand of choice?
Other than I’m so proud to work for this company? Ha!
- It is so easy to use. Right out of the box it is easy to use. Our competitors’ scales, you can figure out after a while, but Gallagher is easy to figure out right away. When you have hundred of calves to process and you are in a hurry you don’t have time to spend a lot of time on set-up, you can easily set-up the variables or traits that you care about whether it is just a couple or if it is more extensive for breeding and EPD programs.
- We have the world’s first touch screen scale. It is pressure sensitive so you can use it with leather or nylon gloves or choose to use the keypad with it.
- Gallagher Scale heads are daylight bright, and durable to very hot or cold conditions We went so far as to put stainless steels around our cables which is a unique Gallagher invention. We build almost every piece of the scale ourselves so we can guarantee quality. It’s not going to break down when you’ve got animals in line to weigh.
Why should someone buy Gallagher rather than a competitor?
We’ve really listened to the customer. We watched what the competitor did and then we brought in our own developers and talked to hundreds and hundreds of customers about that they need. And then we took on building a product that was more durable, more enhancements and completely updatable continually looking at what’s next so our product is completely updatable when new information is needed. We make sure new equipment is compatible with existing equipment to reduce the cost for the customer.
Other than the product itself, it’s great service, follow-up and onboarding. You will never be left alone out there and our territory managers like Michele Marcoux and are in the field helping you get the most of your equipment.
So, What’s the investment cost?
Basic System will start around $1100 and then load bars about the same so around $3,000, in some cases less depending on load bars you choose. Those are rugged, heavy duty products in and of themselves and they will last. And the products work together so if you end up wanting something higher end down the road, you’ll be able to utilize existing equipment in addition to some upgrades.
How do I justify the investment?
One of the biggest ways we show payback is with veterinary inputs. We did a test with a dosing company last year in Denver. After one day of running animals through two chutes side-by-side: one chute dosing every animal the same and the other chute dosing based on weight, the chute that dosed based on weight saved almost $3,000 in vaccine costs. That’ll pay for your equipment right there.
Really, the investment is relative to how much information you want to get out of the equipment.
Where should I go to learn more?
Feel free to visit Gallagher.com, or give Michele Marcoux a call at 816-289-9061.