Tracking individual animal health for overall performance

In 1952, Brenton Brothers broke ground in Grimes, Iowa, with plans to feed out 500 head of their own cattle. Today, the operation custom feeds between 5,000 and 6,000 head.

Brenton Brothers’ success and growth stem from a customer- and cattle-centric mindset. Using Performance Beef has bolstered that success by tracking meaningful improvements across health, nutrition and performance over the past few years.

Technology to drive progress

Feedyard Manager Andy Montag started using the technology to feed cattle in 2018 after hearing about it from a friend. Assistant Manager Emily Fox started at Brenton Brothers shortly after that and saw an opportunity to use EID tags alongside Performance Beef’s animal health features.

“Having the technology on the feeding side, it was kind of a no-brainer to apply that to our health side,” says Emily.

Charting precise performance

The health tracking features have changed their outlook on finishing cattle. They’re able to track each individual animal and manage cattle more precisely. For example, they’ve moved away from mass treatment and keep a closer pulse on each animal’s unique performance.

“It's finding the lower performing, poor quality animals and getting rid of them before you tie a bunch of yardage and feed into them,” says Andy.

The health feature and EID tag combo tracks and organizes data on each animal so it’s easy to access on-demand and in real time. The team can see an animal’s information just by scanning its ear tag, no searching required.

EID tags are handy when they’re riding pens, too. If someone needs to doctor a calf, they can pull out their phone and type in the tag number to see that animal’s records. Previously, they’d have to go back to the office for paper records.

“That (animal health feature) has made us more aware of what we're doing, whether this is the second treatment or third treatment for that animal,” Andy adds. “It's definitely [helped us] changed our numbers for the better.”

It’s a bonus for their customers, too. Andy and Emily can give them real-time feedback so customers can make data-based decisions on the ranch.

Data for informed decisions

The Brenton Brothers’ team can feel confident that the data is accurate. Using EID tags to streamline tracking individual animal performance takes most of the human error out of the equation.

“Knowing we’ve got accurate data down to the individual animal helps us decide where we want to send cattle and how to market them, whether that's on a grid or live basis,” says Emily.

Performance Beef’s reports and analytics features have helped the team make better business decisions. They frequent the reports page when they’re shipping cattle to see their breakevens. The analytics page is another tool to help them gauge progress. Andy uses the charts to grade the operation daily, always looking for opportunities to get better.

Efficiency where it counts

It used to take an hour’s bookwork every night to enter processing and doctoring data.  Performance Beef streamlines and automates data capture at the chute or in the pen, eliminating double entry.

“It has lowered our cost of doing business. We went from a full-time secretary to a part-time secretary because there just wasn't as much office work to be done,” says Andy.

Performance that pays

Brenton Brothers uses Performance Beef to help measure improvements and see big-picture trends.

“We've noticed an upward trend in our performance throughout the last three or four years since we've been using Performance Beef. Feeding and health data combined have helped us make better decisions that positively impact performance,” says Emily.

Looking to the future, Emily and Andy aim to build on that success, one animal at a time.

“You get a group of cattle in and you feel like you're doing a good job on them. With Performance Beef, you validate your hunch. To me, that's what it's all about,” adds Andy.


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