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CowBytes Ration-Balancing Software Now Available Through the BCRC

The Beef Cattle Research Council is excited to announce that CowBytes is once again available to cattle producers.  

cowbytes ration-balancing software

CowBytes ration-balancing software allows producers to formulate their own feed rations while considering various combinations of feed and by-products at different prices, and in doing so, can find a way to reduce feed costs while still meeting production targets. Ensuring that cattle are being fed a balanced ration can also save producers on feed costs in the long run by preventing over- or under-feeding.

CowBytes is an easy-to-use ration-balancing software program that can assist cattle producers in developing rations and improving their herd nutrition. The program allows producers to select the type and breeds of cattle that they want to feed, then select the productivity levels of cattle based on body weight, average daily gain, body condition score, and the stage of gestation or milk production in cows. Producers can then also adjust for climatic conditions such as wind or temperature which affect nutritional requirements.

Feed testing is a key component to building a proper ration. Using your own, on-farm feed test results with CowBytes will enhance the accuracy of your rations.

CowBytes comes with a feed table that is based on the average value of Alberta feeds. After selecting your chosen feed(s) from the feed table, you can then modify the nutrient content of the feed to match your own feed test results. You then input the amounts fed of various feeds to balance the ration for energy, protein, macro-minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, and trace minerals such as copper, selenium, and vitamins A and E. Once the ration is balanced, you can then generate eight different reports including feed mix and batch-scale sheets. 

Custom feeding and feed inventory reports can also be generated. These features can help make decisions about purchasing feed in advance or selling animals to match feed inventory with cattle requirements. A yardage calculator is also included where producers can enter their facility, equipment and operating costs (such as insurance, taxes, veterinary services, labour, fuel, utilities, repairs), along with the number of cattle and the number of days on feed to be able to determine the yardage costs per head per day.  

CowBytes version 5.4 is available for purchase at Version 5.4 contains no significant upgrades from the previous version released in 2012. All proceeds will fund future CowBytes upgrades.  

CowBytes was originally developed by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF) in collaboration with Saskatchewan and Manitoba agriculture departments, Agriculture Canada and the University of Saskatchewan. Version 1 debuted in 1991 and for the past 25 years, hosting and improving CowBytes has been a major collaborative effort, making it a popular and effective tool for Canadian beef producers. 

CowBytes was available for purchase from AAF until 2020. Because AAF no longer has the capacity to distribute or update CowBytes, the BCRC has assumed the CowBytes trademark and responsibility for the software. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture will remain an active partner, providing technical support for users and the beef nutrition expertise to lead future upgrades. 

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