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Groups

Overview

Group Stock Management

Planning Groups

Use Cases

 

Overview

 

The term "Group" in StockManager can be equated to a Flock, Herd or Mob in that it is intended to represent a physical collection of animals in the system. In StockManager we have created two types of Groups to accommodate different scenarios: ID Groups & Non-ID Groups.

ID Groups

  • The ID Group is added to individual animal records (animals with an EID and/or VID tag record) in the the same way as weight, breed, etc. 

  • An individual animal can be added to multiple Groups over their lifetime

  • The animal is considered "IN" an ID Group from the time the ID Group is added to their record until they are assigned to another ID Group​

  • This enables you to analyze the metrics of animals "IN" an ID Group on the Current date or within a specific historic date range

  • Coming soon - the ability to add animals to a system default "Unassigned" Group to facilitate accurate Groups counts at any point. These Groups will be available as a standard option for each animal type: "Cattle/Deer/Sheep-9999-Unassigned"

Non-ID Groups

  • Are used to capture data on animals without individual animal records in the system (typically animals without EID and/or VID tags)

  • The Non-ID Group has its own record (similar to an individual animal record) that contains data about the Non-ID Group over time

  • Because the record reflects the attributes of the Group rather than an individual animal, some of the data elements are a slightly different:

    • Instead of an individual animal attribute, averages for the Non-ID Group are captured - e.g. Average Weight vs. Weight​

    • Every data entry also must contain a count of animals that they data element is associated with - e.g. Average Weight of 57.5 kg for 125 animals. This enables StockManager to combine data with ID animals in Analysis calculations and charts

  • Data elements that can be consistent for all animals in the Group are the same as individual animal options - i.e. Breed, Gender, etc. 

Group Stock Management

 

StockManager has a series of functions that help you to leverage Groups to manage stock more effectively. These include:

  • Enabling you to place animals in different ID Groups in the same paddock and use the ID Group later as drafting criteria to separate them

  • Associating Groups with draft directions and automatically recording Group association and metrics during drafting

  • Pre-populating animal counts and average weights for Groups (ID or Non-ID) ​when analyzing feed requirements 

  • Quick lookup of which Groups are in which paddocks and the number of feed days they have remaining

  • Determining animals associated with NAIT Receiver farms by referencing the animal's Group association

The process of drafting animals can be viewed as a process of changing animals from one group to another. The graphic below provides a way to visualize this process. Each drafting event begins with a (Source) Group of animals that are then separated into two or more (Target) Groups based on the animal's attributes (current and/or historic). StockManager helps to facilitate this process by:

  • Providing the ability to automatically add the animal to a new Group based on its draft direction

  • Calculating animal counts and averages for all animals added to a Non-ID Group based on draft direction

This automation can be leveraged as soon as the drafting event is done to quickly calculate the feed requirements of each Target Group in the Feed Planning screen which provides the option to plan based on Group and, if selected, pre-populates the latest animal counts and weights in the Feed Analysis tool. 

 

Planning Groups

When creating Groups in StockManager, both Group types (ID & Non-ID) require you to define a unique combination of Animal Type - Group Year - Group Name for each Group. The system checks to ensure that there are no duplicate Groups created.

While Groups can be easily added at any time, it is a best practice to have a naming convention for Groups defined and implemented ahead of time to ensure that Groups can easily be identified and analyzed later.

To do this:

  1. Select an animal type (Cattle, Deer or Sheep)

  2. Pick a starting phase in your annual management cycle

  3. Write down unique names for each group that you manage separately from other animals during the phase. If you combine or separate groups during the phase, develop the list in the order that this is done.

  4. Make sure the names are unique and descriptive enough that you will remember what they represent but as brief as possible (for display purposes in the app). NOTE: Animal Type and Year should not be part of the name as this is a required part of each group setup

  5. Document the criteria for the animals to be placed in each group - e.g. age >1yr, gender, scan result, etc. this can be used as drafting criteria

  6. Document objective for placing animals in each group - e.g. calculate feed based on group attributes, cull, sell store/prime, etc.

  7. Identify which groups will contain animals with individual animal records in the system (i.e. have EID and/or VID tags) and mark these as ID Groups vs Non-ID

  8. Once this is done for a full livestock cycle (breeding selection through sale of offspring), check that all Group names are unique and that they fit your Group use cases

  9. Repeat this for other animal types

  10. Once complete, enter these in the Groups screen in the tablet for the current year and start using them to collect data, analyze and draft animals more effectively.

  11. Modify as needed and review each year for improvements to Group naming convention 

A blank planning spreadsheet along with some completed reference samples can be found here. Just select File -> Make a copy to create an editable spreadsheet for use.

Tips and Notes:

  • A recommended strategy for Grazers is to create Groups with the current year and name of the farm that animals come from and use these Groups to draft animals, analyze their weight metrics, report performance back to their owners and identify animals for each NAIT Receiver

  • Avoid creating new groups because you are not sure if you have created a similar one in the past

  • Minimize creating ID Groups to provide a one time designator for animals that you would like to analyze later. Adding a Comment to animal records provides the same functionality without adding complexity to Group naming

  • StockManager is pre-populated with 3 Non-ID Groups: Cattle/Deer/Sheep-9999-UNIDENTIFIED. This is used to capture data on animals in Configured Events setup for EID or Visual Tag Identification method if the transaction is completed without tag information being captured.

 

Group Use Cases

There are a variety of reasons to create and use Groups in livestock operations. Some of the most common of these are listed below.

Non-ID Groups

  • To capture and report data (counts, physical attributes, health treatments, etc.) for groups of non-tagged animals

  • To use this captured data to plot Group animal counts and weight performance over time vs. defined goals

  • To quickly reference Group feed planning data (counts and weights) when determining where to feed animals and for how long

  • To compare the performance of non-tagged animals with common characteristics (e.g. counts of lambs at weaning vs. potential birth count or count and average weight of twin lambs this year vs. previous years)

  • To quickly collect data (i.e. weights or condition scores) on a statistically significant subset of animals to facilitate feed planning, mating and sale decisions for the entire group without having to collect data on all animals

ID Groups

  • To draft out animals based on group that are being physically managed in a larger group of animals - e.g. grazing animals from multiple farms or grazing heifers and cows together for feed planning, treatment, sale, etc.

  • To quickly reference Group feed planning data (counts and weights) when determining where to feed animals and for how long

  • To capture data and report performance of grazing animals to their owner

  • To compare key metrics of common groups of animals each year to compare year to year results and improvement progress

  • To capture alignment of offspring to Dam and Sire Groups to compare the performance of these group's offspring for breeding decisions