Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version

December 1997


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XV December 9, 10 and 11, 1997, Rapid City, South Dakota.


Back in 1990, those of us at Malm Ranch Company decided it was becoming more and more difficult to keep accurate records on over 800 head of cows using the paper/pencil method-- especially when the "paper" ended up being the inside of boxes from our vaccines and Ivomec! So when my two kids and I returned to work at the ranch full time, I was given the job of computerizing the cattle records for our family farming/ranching operation. I started out using a data base program but soon found myself having to enter the same information over and over because I was not software-literate enough to know how to integrate my data. It took me four long years of searching and trying programs before I found software that would work for our operation. During that time I discovered there are many programs on the market each with different features. However, my experiences during my own search combined with the experiences I have had since becoming a sales representative for the software I now use, have shown me that many of us begin our search asking the wrong questions. There are so many programs out there, it becomes confusing if we approach the task from the wrong aspect and we usually end up being disappointed with our selection. I quickly learned to beware of any salesman who wanted to tell me what his program could do for me because no one knew exactly how we kept our records. I would like to discuss the six steps I feel you need to go through when are trying to choose a software package.