An app for cattle ranchers

A Texas tech entrepreneur combined his love of computers with his passion for ranching by creating an app made for auctioning cattle.


A Texas tech entrepreneur combined his love of computers with his passion for ranching by creating an app made for auctioning cattle.

Here's the story.


The life of the 21st century rancher is evolving, and the smartphone is changing the way cowboys have managed cattle for generations.

This idea came to me watching calves go through a chute one day, and the greatest pain point I know of in the cow/calf business is the marketing of calves, selling your calves.

There's just not a good way to do it.

And I was watching a cowboy one day run calves through a chute.

He was listening to Pandora on his iPhone.

And it just occurred to me that with the computing power in his pocket and that animal in that chute, we had all the information and the ability to gather that information necessary to sell a calf before we ever moved it.

Wendel approached me originally to help him mock up some ideas that he'd had that he wanted me to program some stuff for the web, and then he came back to me, oh, a few months later and said, you know, 'I'm really thinking about starting this company.

I want to move the cattle auction online, and I want to collect data every step of the way, and I want the data to flow with the animals.'

So I was a little skeptical, but I went out to a local auction with Wendel.

I saw how it was done, and I was kind of shocked at the state of technology in the industry.

We've eliminated an enormous area of stress in the cattle production chain.

That stress is essentially the physical movement of those animals to a physical marketplace.

And that 24-hour process causes material weight loss -- 6% to 8% shrink is pretty standard.

And it also causes animals to get grouped together, and communicable disease becomes a real problem as we physically bring them together to market them.

By gathering the data on the ranch and being able to transport the data around and put it in front of buyers as opposed to physically moving the animals around, we've eliminated that entire efficiency sink in the production chain, and now we're able to deliver healthier, heavier animals to buyers than they could get out of traditional channels.

One of the things we sought out to do early on was to take the same intuitiveness and simplicity that so many mobile apps that you use, you know, in your daily life, whether it's your e-mail app or your messaging app or your photos or Facebook, and to create a product that would be immediately usable to ranchers in the field and wouldn't feel any more difficult or any more foreign than those apps that they're already using.

The three components are the smartphone, the ear tag, and the smart chute.

And the ear tag is the physical connection.

That's how we physically connect data to animals.

Anywhere this ear tag is, you can access that animal's data.

Doesn't matter who owns it, where physically it is.

The smartphone is our conduit to the Internet, and it allows all the data that the chute and the phone pick up to fairly instantly get on the Internet so it exists in a true cloud, our cloud database, so that it can be accessed anywhere this tag should turn up.

And that's the trick here is that we're making all that animal's data as portable as the animal so that it is in front of the person who needs to know it as long as that animal is there.

Right now we have the calf in the chute, and she already has an AgEx ear tag in her.

We're grabbing the weight off the weigh box.

And we're grabbing an updated headshot.

The ear tag has been read.

This ear tag has already been read by this antenna, so the weight and the photograph that we are gathering that are being collected right now are being associated to her file, to her data card.

I'm really excited to see where our product is going.

You know, we're looking into other kinds of imaging, whether that's thermal imaging or 3D imaging or other ways to collect information.

That sort of thing is exciting to us.

The simplification of the user experience is very exciting to us.

And I'm really looking forward to seeing where this ends up two or three years from now.