Thanks to some recent donations, students at a Sioux County, Iowa high school now have the opportunity to learn how to use feedlot management tools. The Rock Valley High School agricultural education program recently partnered with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation, the Sioux County Cattlemen, the Iowa State Beef Checkoff, and Turnkey Computer Systems to supply new laptops and software.
Located in far northwest Iowa, Sioux County is one of the top cattle feeding counties in the nation. In 2012, the county was ranked number four in operations and number fourteen in sales of fed cattle in the US. With such a large feedlot presence, Rock Valley High School agricultural education teacher, Micah Weber, wanted to better prepare his students to enter the agriculture workforce in the future.
“Our students needs hands-on experience using data to make decisions on the farm,” says Weber. “The Advanced Livestock Tracker software from Turnkey Computer Systems is giving them that opportunity.”
Many students who participate in the high school agricultural education program in Rock Valley will go on to work in agriculture. And although they have strong backgrounds in animal science and technology, few are trained in farm management software or farm management, both skills that may be needed in the future.
A division of Animal Health International, Turnkey Computer Systems has several programs available for farm management, tracking everything from feed ingredients to vaccinations, and associated costs. The program being used by Rock Valley FFA is Advanced Livestock Tracker, which is commonly used on Iowa’s smaller feedlots. A local cattle feeder is sharing his data so students have a real-life scenario to work with.
Meghan Anderson, from Turnkey Computer Systems, believes that this software will help better prepare students for the real world. “You can’t make the decisions you need to be profitable if you can’t measure the costs that are going in to your family’s farm operation. We’re hoping the students will find out that technology makes it really easy to know the costs incurred, and it’s very easy to know how much you are making.”
The program will also allow students to print reports that farmers use with their bankers to secure ag loans, calculate a “breakeven,” and make management decisions using financial data.
The Advanced Agriculture Class began using the Turnkey Computer Systems software in January.