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August 29, 2023 Business Tools

BCRC reintroduces CowBytes ration-balancing software

Beef producers seeking a user-friendly program to balance rations can once again turn to a familiar, trusted software.

Now available through the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), CowBytes ration-balancing software helps producers improve their herd’s nutrition and reduce feed costs by formulating their own rations in a customizable, easy-to-use format.

To begin, producers select the type of cattle, breeds, and productivity levels based on factors that influence nutritional requirements, such as gestation stage, body condition score, and climatic conditions.

“CowBytes comes with a feed table that is based on the average value of Alberta feeds. After selecting your chosen feed(s) from the feed table, you can then modify the nutrient content of the feed to match your own feed test results,” as stated in a BCRC blog post.

“You then input the amounts fed of various feeds to balance the ration for energy, protein, macro-minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, and trace minerals such as copper, selenium, and vitamins A and E. Once the ration is balanced, you can then generate eight different reports including feed mix and batch-scale sheets.”

The software also features a yardage calculator to help determine costs per head per day, as well as options to generate feed inventory and custom feeding reports.

The first version of CowBytes was developed by Alberta Agriculture in the 1990s as a collaborative effort with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan and Manitoba’s agriculture departments, and the University of Saskatchewan.

Currently, BCRC holds the trademark to CowBytes, partnering with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture on this software. The latter will offer technical support, as well as the knowledge of its beef nutrition experts when future upgrades to the software are required.

The latest version of CowBytes can be purchased on the BCRC website, with all proceeds to fund the software’s future upgrades.

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About the Author

Piper Whelan
Piper grew up on a purebred cow-calf operation in Southern Alberta, and she studied English and history at the University of Alberta and journalism at the University of King's College. She has written for industry publications for more than a decade and was previously the Digital Content Specialist for Alberta Beef Producers.

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