Through extensive commercial and scientific validation we have determined that GrowSafe Beef can positively affect net income in the pen by more than $40 per head. We have compartmentalized management strategies positively affected by the use of GrowSafe Beef as follows:
- Optimal Marketing $10 - $21/hd
- Early Sickness Detection $12 - $23/hd
- Poor Performer Management $17 - $21/hd Labor $ 1 - $10/hd
- Reduced Days on Feed Carbon Offset* $ 2 - $ 8/hd*
(*Assumes $11-15 per ton CO2-e available only in active trading market area)
Beta Test Validation
Data collected during the beta test validation of GrowSafe Beef was published in the professional Animal Scientist. June 2007 vol. 23 no. 3 295-299
Case Study: An Evaluation of the Potential to Measure Real-Time Body Weight of Feedlot Cattle.W. H. Kolath, C. Huisma, and M. S. Kerley
Validation Phase 1—Optimal Marketing 2007/2008
To validate return on investment from optimal marketing strategies, GrowSafe Beef™ was installed in 5 trial feedlots with ~4,000 animals monitored. Individual animal carcass measurements were obtained. Water intake was not measured. Treatment data was collected but animal health intervention was not based on GSB data.
Upon arrival at the feedlot animals were processed according to the standard operating procedures of each feedlot and randomly assigned to one of two treatments: GrowSafe Beef™ managed pens (GSB) and traditionally managed control pens (CON). Both GSB and CON animals were managed in the same manner except for determining marketing dates. GrowSafe Beef ™ managed animals were marketed based upon an economic model that determined when cost of gain exceeded the value of gain aggregated into optimal truckloads. Carcass merit was not considered. Traditionally managed animals were marketed by feedlot personal according to standard operating procedures. Average daily gain was 0.11lb greater and feed conversion was improved by 0.20 – 0.35lb/d for the GSB animals compared to CON animals. Cost of gain was also reduced for GrowSafe Beef ™ managed animals. The number of days on feed for the GSB animals was both greater and lower than CON animals depending on the location. The use of GrowSafe Beef™ technology marketing when the cost of gain exceeded the value of gain resulted in on average an increase in profit per head of $15.26.
Validation Phase 2—Water Intake Measurement 2009
The first phase of trials demonstrated that sickness could be identified early by GSB. A review of treatment data indicated that watering frequency and duration was not an accurate and consistent predictor of illness or water intake. Cattle would visit the bunk without drinking. GrowSafe determined that water intake measurement was required to early identify sickness reliably, particularly in the first two weeks after arrival. GrowSafe developed an individual water intake measurement mechanism which was added to GSB units. Several design flaws identified during the first trials were addressed.
The ability to predict individual dry matter intake (DMI) with accuracy would have production, and selection applications and optimal marketing would be greatly enhanced by including a more accurate prediction of individual intake. Present equations contained within scientific literature cannot explain more than approximately two thirds of variation of DMI.
The water intake measurement equipped GSB unit was installed in an Alberta feedlot and cattle were measured from October to December 2009 for a period of 66 days. The trial monitored 164 heifers with an average weight of 474 kg/1044 lbs during 650,000 feeding events, 120,000 meal events, and 65,000 drinking events.
We determined that water intake correlated to DMI, disease, and residual feed intake (feed efficiency). An equation was developed which correlated water intake to DMI with about 85% accuracy. Data collected during this trial provided the foundation for enhanced disease profiling and individual automated medication based on these measurements.
Results from this study were published in the Journal of Animal Science. Potential for water intake to predict dry matter intake in finishing beef steers. M. H. Ramos, M. S. Kerley, M. Brankovic, J. Gillespie, and C. Huisma,. J. Anim. Sci. Vol. 88, E-Suppl. 2/
Validation Phase 3—Disease Profiling—Automated Intervention Algorithm— October 2010
In October 2010, supported by a highly respected team of epidemiologists, immunolgists and veterinarian specialists we began a validation trial in 2 commercial feedyards. By trial end, we will have comprehensively monitored 3200 animals.
The objectives of this study are to determine:
- if multiple measurements acquired continuously in the feedyard in real time can be built into a computerized algorithm that profiles and identifies disease occurrence in advance of current feedyard visual assessment,
- which automated measurements collected are of the greatest significance when identifying the onset of disease,
- what the economic benefit of this type of diagnostic method is, and whether it can be practically used in the feedyard.
In addition to GrowSafe measurements we have also collected samples from animals to characterize the detailed health status, using blood parameters as a gold standard for disease.
This trial will provide the data to begin developing more complex learning algorithms, and serves as the first step to automatically medicating animals in the feedyard without human intervention. The data collected also enables novel multi-parameter phenotypic characterization and may be instrumental in elucidating the genetic determinants of sickness behavior.
In the future this type of automated standardized data acquisition method will better assess the efficacy of various therapeutic strategies, and should enable more objective relevant comparison between animal studies.
During the first 21 days of this study there were 717 animal health interventions based on feedyard health crew assessment. Based on GrowSafe data alone we would have:
- agreed with the feedyard crew's 'pull' assessment 25% of the time,
- not pulled 65% of the cattle pulled by the feedyard,
- pulled 29 additional animals which the feedyard crew did not identify.
Of these animals:
- 68% based on clinical signs were identified as BRD (73% of these had temperatures less than 105 deg.)
- 21% had no temperature but were still treated based on clinical signs
What this all means is correct is currently up for speculation but by closeout, GrowSafe feedlot performance records, along with blood parameters and carcass data will provide a more complete picture.