Arizona Ranch Uses Smart Feeding System To Test Bull Feed Intake

- Nov 27, 2019-

Herrington Cattle, in eastern Safford, Arizona, recently began a trial using current technology to measure animal feed intake, including bulls grazing from a row of stainless steel feed buckets.


The event, called the Southwest Bull Test, began on November 1st and accepts bulls from across Arizona and New Mexico. Herrington uses the SmartFeed system created by C-Lock to measure the amount of feed consumed by animals over a period of time. C-Lock, a South Dakota company, was founded in 2005.


Rancher Matt Herrington said: "We weighed the bulls at the beginning and the end of the trial, so we know how much weight they gained. The main goal of this is to find the bulls that performed the best when fighting. I grew up on this farm and my father (Mark Herrington) came here in the 1970s. I studied animal science at Idaho and New Mexico State University, and when I finished my studies, I decided to apply what I learned Bring to the Southwest. We decided to build a bull development center and start the Southwest Bull test here. "


The intelligent feeding system uses a stainless steel feed barrel and an RFID tag is installed in the animal's left ear. When the bull lowers his head to eat and raises his head again, the system records the weight of the feed in the barrel. Each bucket is mounted on a load cell that can be connected to a computer system, and readings are sent wirelessly. "I can log in at any time to see the real-time weight of each barrel, how much feed each bull ate on that day, week, or time period. If the bull is not eating or one of the barrels is not working properly, the system will report to I send email alerts. "


These data can determine which bulls have gained the least weight and which have gained the most weight, which is an important data for southwest ranchers. Many cattle in the Southwest are grazing on pastures, where the feed is very scarce. Identifying bulls with what we call efficient feeding can help ranchers pass on these efficiency genes to other herds. Ranchers can breed a group of animals that maintain and grow with less intake. This is a great help when the rancher's feeding area is large and the feed is relatively small.


Bulls from five or six producers participated in the Southwest Bull Test, which can accommodate up to 75 bulls and will last for about 120 days. This test center is unique in Arizona, and is Arizona's first place to allow animals from other manufacturers to use smart feeding systems.