If you thought accessing and using the original BIXS program was just okay (or maybe you didn’t think it was really that great), don’t make any further judgments until you check out the new updated version BIXS 2.0.
After wide spread consultation across the industry and a few months of redesign, the new BIXS 2.0 has just been launched. It is simpler, and leaner, and is compatible with just about every other ranch record keeping system that may be out there. And with nearly three million head of cattle in the BIXS data base it is starting to generate the type of information all sectors of the beef industry can use. You can find it at www.bixs.cattle.ca
ALL ABOUT INFORMATION EXCHANGE
The original BIXS, which stands for Beef InfoXchange System, was launched a couple years ago. An initiative of the Canadian beef industry, organized through the Canadian Cattleman’s Association, the intent of BIXS is to provide an information exchange about cattle produced by Canadian beef producers. At the cow-calf end, producers can learn how their calves fed and ultimately receive carcass data and grading information. For feeders, packers and even retailers they can use the service to help source cattle that fit specific market needs. It is an information exchange system. All voluntary, all free, and all very confidential. Nobody is going to know your business, but if you use the system, it may help you to grow your business.
To get started all the producer needs is their phone number and their CCIA account ID.
It starts with the individual cow-calf producer who enters information about calves produced in his or her herd into the BIXS on-line program. All that is needed is the animal’s CCIA tag number, date of birth, sex and genetic makeup — is it a Angus, Charolais, Murray Grey or some type of cross. There is a drop-down menu that lets you select a description that best matches your calves. Those are the basics.
Although BIXS itself is not a ranch record keeping system, there is room in the program to add more details such as birthweights, and any processing information that occurred on the ranch — medical treatments, vaccinations, implants and more. That information is all optional, but again for the buyer looking for specific cattle, produced in a specific way, more information can help them find the cattle they want.
Once the basic information is entered at the farm level, that record stays with the animal through the rest of the production chain— through to the feedlot and then to the packer. Those last two sectors enter information on each animal into BIXS as well. Ultimately, the cow-calf producer will receive back grading and carcass quality information on calves produced on his or her farm 18 months earlier.
GREAT MANAGEMENT TOOL
It could just be “nice to know” information, but it can also be used to analyze your breeding program. How many AAA or AA carcasses did your calves produce? What were the marbling and ribeye scores? How were their carcass yields? It could point to some changes to make in your breeding program, or it could just confirm that you are doing a pretty good job.
As Larry Thomas, national coordinator of BIXS, points out the industry is starting to see more drive from the packer and retailer/food service sectors as those players look for cattle to fit market needs. A & W Restaurants for example is working with all natural beef. A major B.C. food retailer is working the BC Cattleman’s Association to source all natural beef. McDonalds is another very image conscious food service company concerned about quality and production practices. A new free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union could open the door for cattle produced under specific protocols.
These end users, and for more to follow, can all use BIXS to go back through the production chain to find the cattle they need, or even to put out the word to get cow-calf producers and feeders producing cattle for specific markets. Again here is the emphasis on the “information exchange” aspect of BIXS.
Feeders, packers, food retailers and even auction markets can all make blind inquiries through BIXS looking for specific types of the cattle, or certain production practices. Individual producer identity is protected. However, if an inquiry is made, administrators of the BIXS program can alert producers who may have cattle that meet those specs, and then it is left to the producer to decide if he or she wants to connect with the buyer who made the inquiry.
The new BIXS 2.0 is much easier and more simplified to use. The old adage is that information is power. BIXS is the only information exchange system of its kind in the world bringing power to all sectors of the Canadian beef industry to produce cattle for an ever-changing marketplace — you just have to use it.
Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]