CowBytes, is a ration balancing software and an excellent resource that enables beef producers to formulate their own feed rations. The software comes pre-loaded with average values for common feeds, but we strongly recommend you enter the values from your feed tests.

The nutritional quality of feed can vary immensely year to year and from one area to another. So our suggestion is that the first step in this process is testing your feed. A lot of hard work goes into growing and harvesting the feed so ensuring it meets your herd’s nutritional requirements is important.

The feed is tested for quality, but it’s also important to know the quantity of feed you have available at home because the next step is to enter the feed test data and feed inventories into CowBytes. No-one wants to be worrying about sourcing and transporting additional feed in the middle of winter so if there’s a chance we can have this figured out earlier, there’s still some time to source additional feed before it’s minus 30 out.

Using CowBytes with your information and cowherd specifics can help ensure your cow herd requirements will be met. This also allows you to manage your feed inventory and prevent over- or under-feeding, costing you money or affecting animal health and production. Costing out your rations is also an option in this software, allowing you to play around with different feeds and supplements, aiming for a least cost ration. You can always consult with a nutritionist or your local livestock and feed extension specialist to go over the prepared ration together. CowBytes does offer generalized tidbits of nutritional data for certain feeds; however, these folks can have great insight on localized feed quality in any given year.

CowBytes is now available for purchase through the Beef Cattle Research Council. The software costs $60 and will be delivered on a USB flash drive via regular mail.