Super SmartFeed System
By Kacie McCarthy, Cow-Calf Specialist, and Nicole Woita, M.S. student
What is the Super SmartFeed and how does it work?
The Super SmartFeed (C-Lock Inc., Rapid City, SD) is a portable, in-pasture, self-contained feeding system that provides four divided feeding bins to measure daily individual supplement intake and feeding behavior. The solar-powered system includes a radio frequency identification (RFID) reader, weigh scales for each feeding bin, and alley gates for each feeding bin to reduce competition. Each animal is equipped with an electronic identification (EID) tag to measure individual supplement intake, time spent at the supplement feeder, and the supplement consumption rate. All of this data is continuously uploaded to a cloud-based interface. A unique feature of the feeding system is the ability to individually target the supplement allotment by reading the EID and supplement amount per animal can be programmed so that multiple supplement strategies can be utilized in one pasture. The Super SmartFeed can be moved anywhere throughout the pasture or pen to provide easy access to cattle.
Why is the Super SmartFeed used in research?
In research, the Super SmartFeed can evaluate and monitor targeted supplementation for individual animal intake, which may reduce variation in intake. In pasture-based research , supplementation is either applied to the pasture or animals have to be individually supplemented. Supplementation on a pasture basis requires multiple pastures per year for each treatment and typically has high variation in intakes across animals within those pastures. The performance results across individual pastures would be an average of all the animals on that pasture rather than the individual animal response. The alternative is individually supplementing each animal; however, this is very time consuming and laborious. Using technology like the Super SmartFeed allows for the convenience of pasture supplementation with the benefits of individual supplementation. In addition, supplementation strategies can be more targeted and formulated in a smaller delivery package size for an increase in animal performance.
Why would technology like the Super SmartFeed benefit producers?
Technology such as the Super Smartfeed system gives producers the opportunity to improve animal performance by a targeted and strategic supplementation program. Another advantage of these technology systems is that they decrease fuel costs and labor needed to deliver supplement. The Super SmartFeed system also records each animal’s daily intake, giving producers the ability to receive data to monitor their herds in near or far pastures.