“Among the many functions a herd management programme should offer livestock farmers, the most important is the ability to identify unproductive cows,” says Dr Michael Bradfield, CEO of Breedplan in South Africa.
He added that basic record keeping starts with one cow and a record of every calf. “Doing it on paper or an Excel spreadsheet, quickly becomes unmanageable. A good management programme easily records basic reproductive statistics.”
Jan van Zyl and his wife Irma, of Kroonvee Brahmane in the Vryburg district, agree. They run a Brahman, Afrikaner, Simbra, Afrisim and Simmental stud, totalling more than 800 animals, as well as a commercial herd. All record keeping is done using Herdmaster and the programme seamlessly integrates with all the breed societies. “I do all my registrations and recording of weight and trait information electronically,” says Irma.
Dr Bradfield says users now only need to learn one programme. A pocket PC version has also been developed to accommodate changes to Windows Mobile 6.0. All the programmes use MS technology. The new programme seamlessly integrates with existing programmes such as MS Word and Excel and a .Net version has been developed to use across different herds.
With more than 70 different reports, the new Herdmaster can easily accommodate most user’s queries. It also has a custom reporter for discerning users who want to create their own reports. A support website specifically for Southern African users, called “So Maak Ons”, has been developed on a maintenance support agreement allowing interactive support via tip sheets and key word searches at www.pijoka.co.za/herdmaster. A bi-monthly newsletters is also being sent to all users. The Herdmaster programme was developed by ABRI in Australia, a company that specialises in agricultural software.
“A large team of programmers and support staff is important in the software business,” says Pierre Joubert, head of support at Herdmaster, who’s responsible for full-time support in Southern Africa. “Just one programmer leaves users vulnerable, since programme development isn’t easily transferred.”
Herdmaster has an optional support maintenance fee. “Although the programme comes with three months free support, users in the agricultural sector generally require continuous support,” says Pierre. “We give users the option of a maintenance support agreement, at a small fee, allowing them to phone, fax or e-mail if they need help.” The Herdmaster programme retails from R3 000 to R3 800 depending on the version. A trial version is available for 45 days.
Contact Auriel Mitchley on (011) 889 0796 or e-mail [email protected].