Invitation to Canadian Cattle Producers
Herdly Mobile App and Desktop PC Software | Final Testing Phase
In 2016 it was estimated that while 75% of Canadian producers had a smartphone, only about 13% used herd management software and about 1 in 5 owned a tag reader. To make these technologies more accessible, the CCA has been working with Synergy Farm Solutions to develop cow-calf management software and with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to develop a pocket sized tag reader for mobile devices. Synergy Farm Solutions is operated by a former Alberta cow-calf producer which provides familiarity with the unique requirements of the Canadian marketplace. At this point the Herdly software is very close to completion and we are hoping to conduct a final test over the next couple of months. We are inviting Canadian cow-calf producers to download the iPhone app and/or the desktop PC software for Mac and Windows. At this point a version for Android phones is not available although the Windows or Mac computer version can perform all functions. You may also use a current iPad or iPod to run the Herdly software for mobile. Please note that prior to using the mobile app you will need to set up your ranch settings on the desktop computer version. The following links will be helpful to producers wishing to participate in the evaluation of the Herdly software:
- Get Software: For information on how to download the Windows or Mac software and the mobile app from the Apple app store visit: https://herdly.ca/downloads/
- Install: For help installing Herdly on a computer or mobile device visit: https://herdly.ca/support/getting-started/installing-herdly.html
- Support: Additional support information to assist producers when using the Herdly software is available at: https://herdly.ca/support/
We anticipate this final testing period will run from until sometime in the fall. Following the testing period, the app will be made available by Synergy Farm Solutions for a monthly subscription fee of $5 plus .33 cents per head per month. For an average sized herd of 85 cows this works out to be about $18 per month. No payment information will be required or requested during the testing period.
Users who have downloaded the software will be emailed a link to a survey which will allow you to provide your feedback on the Herdly mobile app and Mac or Windows computer software. Your feedback will be used to determine the current readiness of the software as well as potential consideration for future development.
Key features for testing
Herdly is different than most other herd management software packages in that it does not run through a web browser. That means all your historical data is available on the mobile app even when there is no cellular connection. It also makes it possible to fully utilize hardware features which may be limited by using a web browser including the ability to directly control accessories like the pocket reader for mobile devices which is under development. Some key features for testing are outlined below;
- Enter information on more than 100 attributes including those related to breeding, animal identification, veterinary care, performance and marketing as outlined here
- Detailed animal history
- Advanced search and filtering of production data
- Individual animal data recording as well as the ability to apply actions to user defined groups
- Manual or automatic creation of required data for upload to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) in accordance with user settings
- Capture photos and notes and link them with production events for individual animals
- Record comprehensive information on diagnosis, treatment and preventive veterinary care including medications
- Automatically sync all your phones and desktop computers (Windows or Mac) with the cloud storage system.
- Unlimited devices and users on one ranch with the potential to also create multiple ranches
- Track breed compositions
Some additional information on the software as well as the development of the pocket sized RFID tag reader for mobile devices is contained below.
History of the Cow-Calf Management App and Pocket-Sized RFID Tag Reader for Mobile Devices
At the direction of former CCA President, Travis Toews, a dedicated effort to make tag readers and data management more user friendly for Canadian cattle producers was initiated. With financial support from the former Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), CCA partnered with the RFID lab at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to begin work on developing a RFID tag reader that could be used with a smartphone in 2014. As part of the same project CCA also retained software developer Cannon Smith of Synergy Farm Solutions to create demonstration software to go along with the reader. The app and reader concept was then tested with 200 cattle producers across Canada. Following the successful test a second phase of the project was initiated in 2016 with funding from Alberta Agriculture where the reader was further developed and an actual working version of the software with more advanced functionality was developed by Cannon Smith who committed to bringing the app to the market. This included companion PC software for both Windows and Mac as well as a cloud storage system to support automatic syncing of production information.
The cloud storage system allows producers to store their data locally on the phone as well as "in the cloud". This means that data can be viewed on the phone or tablet even when there is no cell service. If the phone is lost or damaged the stored information can easily be retrieved from the cloud. A cow-calf operation can also have multiple people entering data and all the data will be updated to each users mobile device so everyone sees the the most current information. The Herdly app is designed with the input of cow-calf producers to ensure it is easy to use. The software’s advanced functionality means it can accommodate information on more than 100 attributes including those related to breeding, animal identification and traceability, veterinary care, performance and marketing. Required information for CCIA can be uploaded right from the phone at your request. You can also take advantage of features your smartphone provides such as your camera by taking and attaching photos of animals to their production records. The software is customizable so that your most commonly used information is easily accessible which saves time and make the use of smaller screens on mobile devices more effective.
The CCA is hoping to identify a commercial partner to produce the pocket reader for mobile devices in 2018. While the Herdly mobile app is the first to be designed to integrate with the pocket reader we anticipate there may be others in the future. Until the reader is available commercially, the Herdly app has some innovative features to make it easier to enter in CCIA ID information without a reader and it will eventually be compatible with existing readers on the market. The tag reader is designed to fit in your pocket and can communicate with your mobile device more than 100 feet away. It communicates its status and tag reads through lights as well as user adjustable vibration feedback. It is designed to be water resistant and has multiple locations for attaching lanyards for added convenience. The tag read range is approximately six to eight inches.