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Data is Key to Labor Efficiency

In today’s tight labor market, there’s an undeniable shortage of experienced and skilled help in the feedlot sector. Managers need efficient solutions to make strategic decisions that help develop well-defined cattle feeding protocols and efficient training programs.

Fortunately, today we have advanced technologies that can evaluate your own data and provide valuable insights as you make decisions for your feedlot. In this edition of Bunk Line Bulletin, we’ll explore how this technology – integrated machine vision coupled with artificial intelligence – can help you maximize your current labor force and boost your bottom line.  We at Precision Livestock Technologies (PLT)  believe that applying integrated machine data, using artificial intelligence to interpret real, observable statistics, is key to helping cattle feeders make the most of what they have.

Common Issues

In our work  with cattle feeders, we have discovered several common issues related to “gaps” in information. The way we find these missing pieces is through consistent monitoring of data points to “hear” what the animals are telling us.

In many cases, feeders are hampered by a lack of concrete, objective data and a reliance on subjective observations. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for feedlot staff to consistently monitor the behavior of every animal. And even if there were time, human memory is notoriously short and subjective, and it takes too long to tabulate, analyze and report massive amounts of data manually. 

As well, many cattle managers lack sufficient real-time information to make fast, efficient decisions. In one case, a feeder didn’t know their bunks were consistently slicking between feedings because they had no means of monitoring and measuring this information. Over time, this created a substantial loss in gain and feed efficiency and eroded profits. Today, tools like PLT’s integrated machine vision platform allow feeders to monitor issues like empty bunks automatically.

Actionable data to improve profitability

Hard data are a powerful tool to drive profit-increasing decisions. Our technology allows feeders to evaluate their herd’s feed status in minutes, a task that was not possible before this technology was developed.

One of the biggest benefits is ensuring cattle will be fed to reach their full potential.

We all know that margins are tight in the cattle-feeding business. Fortunately,  small changes can make a big difference in profitability.

In the case of the slick bunks mentioned earlier, the feeder was able to identify the previously unknown “gap” of information. They took steps to prevent slicking and maintain intake levels and thus improve profits.

Insights can also be gleaned from behavioral patterns. For example, aggression scores can be used to smooth out intake curves and drive consistently higher intakes and fewer, unexpected intake drops.

The data also enables consulting nutritionists to oversee the feeding program better. They can  identify coaching opportunities and establish a feeding protocol for employees that takes advantage of more precise data on each pen. This helps you get the most from everyone on the team, including the nutritionist and other professionals you work with.

Combining data and protocols

The real magic happens when you marry your data with real-life protocols carried out by your employees.  

By providing consistent, objective data on key metrics, like night slicks and feeding behavior, PLT’s Bunk Management System makes it possible to ensure every member of your team does a good job. It allows you to define feeding rules better so that new or less experienced help can be trained and managed efficiently.

To discover how the PLT Bunk Management System can help you get the most from your team and your data,  visit our website at or shoot us an email at

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