It is one of those good stews that has been on the development burner for a couple years, but the Canadian Cattleman’s Association Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) should be served up to Canadian beef producers before the snow melts.
BIXS is a voluntary, free system that will allow beef producers, and others in the whole beef production and processing chain, to collect or access carcass data on individual animals. For the beef producer as the slogan says “Find out the beef your cattle become.” You spend the year producing calves, and through BIXS you can get information back from feeders and the packing plant on how those calves fed and graded.
That’s not just “nice to know” information. It can be used as an important tool to adjust your breeding program, for starters. And the system that connects producers, with feeders, with processors can also be used to enhance marketing efforts. You’ve got a breeding program that is producing calves of X quality, well, through the confidential information exchange BIXS affords, there is opportunity to connect with feeders or processors who may be looking for just that type of calf. Or feeders and processors can send market signals back to producers on the type of calves they need. All kinds of business relationships could develop.
If carcass information on calves isn’t important to you, or if you’re at a stage in your career where you’re too old to worry about changing things now — which many days I relate to — BIXS may not be all that appealing.
But if you want information on how your breeding or management is working now, and/ or are interested in tapping into new market opportunities, it may be very worthwhile turning on your computer for. It is free and confidential. You do have to enter your cattle ID numbers into the program, and then the system asks for some very basic information on your beef herd (there is also lots of optional information you can provide if you want), but once the numbers are registered the information flow has started.
I recently spoke with Larry Thomas, the national co-ordinator for BIXS, who has got greyer and balder over the last couple of years trying to get this project going, and he says the soft launch is hopefully just days or a couple weeks away. The first step is to launch the service with about 40 Canadian beef producers who will use the service and report if there are any glitches. The next step is to bring another 100 producers online, so they too can put the software through its paces. And once any bugs have been worked out through the testing of those two groups, there will be a full BIXS roll out to Canadian producers.
Picking dates is always dangerous when you are dealing with software and other administrative issues, but ideally producers will be able to put 2011 calf crop numbers into BIXS shortly after calves hit the ground.
You can visit the BIXS website for more details on the service at: www.bixs.cattle.ca
DESIGNING GRAZING CELLS
If you need some advice on designing grazing cells or pasture layout, Steve Kenyon of Greener Pastures Ranching is offering a Cell Design Workshop at Westlock, Alta. on March 5. This is a one-day session to show you different types of cell design and help producers implement a workable fencing plan.
Cost of the workshop is $30 per person, which includes lunch.
Later in March, Kenyon is offering a three-day school on year round grazing systems, March 18 to 20 in Westlock. There is a one-day Pasture Walk planned near Busby, July 2. For more details on all of these events go to the website at www.greenerpasturesranching.com or phone (780) 307-2275.
AFAC REGISTRATION OPEN
Registration for the 2011 Alberta Livestock Care Conference in early April is now open.