FeedSmart – Helping to feed the hungry

Sam Pike

Feed planning for livestock can be a time-consuming and daunting task for many farmers. Until now, there have been few resources available to sheep and beef farmers for quickly determining feed requirements. This is set to change with the recent launch of the FeedSmart app, developed by Beef + Lamb NZ and the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).    

FeedSmart is a free online feed planning app for sheep and beef farmers, which allows farmers to make fast, accurate decisions while in the paddock or on the move. Information from traditional feed demand tables can now be accessed at the click of a button and, thanks to a model developed by FarmIQ, used to determine daily feed requirements. As seen in the image below, the app’s interface is focused on simplicity, meaning users and managers can get to grips with the app quickly and easily.

 

The FeedSmart interface is focused on simplicity for users

The home screen lets users select between sheep or cattle. Next, the age and class of stock is chosen, followed by the mob’s average weight and estimated growth rate per day which are featured in the image beneath. Feed demand is automatically adjusted depending on the time of year. The date can be changed so you can determine future feed requirements, which may change depending on growth rates and pregnancy. For breeding cows and ewes, the app allows a mating date and scanning percentage to be entered, to more accurately determine feed requirements depending on the stage of pregnancy or lactation and number of foetuses. FeedSmart then calculates the daily requirements per animal in kilograms of dry matter (kgDM/day) or megajoules of metabolisable energy (MJME/day). The calculator takes into account maintenance requirements, animal growth, lactation, pregnancy and pasture quality. A handy feature of the app prevents incorrect data from being entered, by highlighting in red any boxes which have unrealistic numbers. One thing users must be aware of is that the calculated feed demand figure refers to the animal’s intake, so utilisation and residual cover must also be factored in.

 

Daily Feed Requirements Screen 1

Daily feed requirements can be quickly determined on the go

Once daily feed requirements have been determined, FeedSmart can also assist with feed allocation for individual mobs as seen below. The number of days the paddock of feed will last, residual cover, stocking rates and the size of paddock breaks can all be calculated within the app as shown below. This feature can help users save considerable time, whilst making feed allocation more precise.  

   

Daily Feed Requirements Screen 2

Daily feed requirements can be quickly determined on the go

FeedSmart can also be customised to suit individual farms. By using the settings tab which can be seen in the image beneath, users can select land type, feed quality, pasture growth rates, birth weights and weaning weights specific to their operation. Adjusting these settings helps to improve the accuracy of the app.

 

Settings Screen

Settings can be customised to suit different situations

Beef + Lamb NZ have produced a series of short instructional videos, which are worthwhile checking out for people new to the app. An easy-to-read user guide provides more in-depth help on navigating the app.

The app has been cleverly designed so once it has been saved on a device, it can be used offline – anytime and anywhere. Instructions for this can be found in the user guide. While there are no instructions on how to do this for PC or Mac, the app can be accessed offline by saving it as a bookmark in your web browser. One limitation of the FeedSmart app is that data cannot be exported to other devices or applications.

The FeedSmart app can be accessed for free on any PC, Mac, iPad, Tablet, Android, iPhone or Windows Phone by simply visiting www.feedsmart.co.nz. So check it out now and make sure your stock don’t go hungry!