The information feedyards use to make decisions varies widely based on staffing, facility layout, nutritionist preference, historical precedence, and a combination of all the above. To accommodate the disparate methodologies in use today, Precision Livestock Technologies provides an “Alerts” functionality that lets each producer specify the metrics they rely on to make decisions so that the system can automatically present the most useful data to them.
We discussed in Bunk Line Bulletin #2 how reliable data is an essential input for making the right feeding decisions. While having a rich stream of accurate data is indispensable, without a thoughtfully designed suite of tools and analytics, minute-by-minute metrics across a whole feed yard might lead to information overload.
To meet this challenge, our Bunk Management System’s Alerts capability lets users separate signals from noise with a flexible, user-friendly way to capture actionable insights across a comprehensive dataset.
Alerts can be created for deviations in delivery time, aggression scores, bunk levels at key points in the day, and night slicks. Each alert can be filtered by ration, bunk space, days on feed, and even down to the pen level. Rather than send text messages or emails, Alerts are presented on a dashboard where results can be refined for quick analysis. Below are a few examples of how Alerts are being used to inform bunk management decisions.
What Happened Last Night?
First, let’s take a scenario relating to early morning feed decisions. In a yard where the feeding protocol calls for a slick bunk prior to the first feeding on finish ration, a bunk reader may have a couple of night bunk reads but may not actually know whether bunks slicked at midnight or 4am. To streamline the decision process, the feed caller is given a list of the pens which did not slick within 3 hours of the first feeding.
Leveraging Feeding Behavior
The PLT system brings the novel ability to measure aggressiveness objectively and consistently at the bunk – for any feeding, at any time. The alert system is designed to take that novel insight and operationalize it quickly and easily. Let’s look at a couple of basic use cases.
Taking Ration Into Account
Experience tells us metrics like feeding behavior depend on several factors, including time on feed, stage of step up, background, etc. Often, ration is a reliable proxy for normalizing behavioral metrics. The alert system can assign different aggressiveness parameters to cattle on each ration. For example, a higher aggression score is expected on a starter ration than a finishing ration.
Considering Time of Day
Similarly, one would expect – and the system can account for – different levels of aggression for the first feeding vs. subsequent feedings throughout the day. Alerts provides a simple way to vary settings depending on which feeding is being considered.
Meaningful gains accrue when the system is harnessed by an experienced bunk reader, who will want to “challenge” cattle with additional feed to maximize intake. Challenging can be done more confidently when aggression remains high and slick times are remaining constant or trending earlier. Conversely, cattle may be slicking the bunk at similar times, but declining aggression may be a good signal to hold the cattle another day or two before challenging them further. With reliable data and a way to quickly see which pens are ahead or behind based on several factors, correctly timing and size of increases and finding a pen’s maximum intake level without overshooting makes the difference between a profitable and an unprofitable pen of cattle.
Bringing It All Together
To ensure that users can quickly access the insights available within the Alerts, Alertsa dashboard displays all Alerts across time. The chart gives users a way to filter the data by such factors as ration, by alley, by days on feed, etc. And deeper pen-level insights are available from the dashboard in a single click.
By building an alerts system with the primary goal of supporting efficient decision making, Precision Livestock helps producers cut through the noise and surface reliable, familiar metrics to drive higher efficiency across the feedyard.