Cattle app syncs farm, phone

ICalve | Alberta couple develops application that stores records and calculates calving due dates

It’s not a pretty sight when the calving book falls from a pocket and lands in the snow and slop during the busy calving season.

Jake and Tanya Meyer, cow-calf producers near Lethbridge, decided to avoid that scenario by designing a calving records application for mobile phones and tablets.

ICalve, an app compatible with Apple products, was officially released Nov. 12, and an Android version is in development.

“We’ve had some really great feedback and uptake from the industry,” said Jake Meyer. “It’s a world market. We’ve had some buyers in the U.K. already, some in Australia and of course a pile in the United States.”

The program stores calving records, including the basic data of birth date, birth weight, sex, identification, death loss, culls and vaccination.

It also has a gestation calendar that automatically calculates calving due dates based on dates of breeding.

Information is backed up using iCloud, “so in case you do lose your phone, or your wife washes it or whatever, you still have your records. They’re backed up,” said Meyer.

Records can also be exported to a PDF file and printed for ease of use during branding and tagging, which will likely be useful to record Canadian Cattle Identification Agency tags.

Neither Meyer nor his wife are software developers, but when they got the idea for a calving app and didn’t find anything already available, they made a business plan and hired a developer in India to design it.

“It’s a very simple app. We definitely designed it so your average producer could navigate through it without being overwhelmed or confused.”

It was tempting to add options to the program while it was in development, but Meyer said they resisted the temptation.

“We tried to keep it very simple and not get too technical. Once we started building it, it was really easy to start putting all this wild stuff in there … but we kind of decided we want it simple. We want calving records. We don’t want to build an entire ranch management software suite.”

Meyer hasn’t used the app for his own calving season because it was just released and his herd won’t start calving until March. However, he has already inputted hundreds of records to test it, and the program can manage up to 2,000 records.

Now he is working on updates.

“A significant update is the app being able to sync with other phones, so if your wife’s checking cattle, she can input records on her app and when she gets home, you can just sync your phones together.”

The app sells for $9.99 through the app store. The Meyers receive 70 percent of the price and Apple gets the balance.

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