Development and utilization of the AI Cowculator: A decision-aid application to determine whether to utilize fixed-time artificial insemination (TAI) or purchase herd sires for natural service
The development of reliable, efficient and economic TAI protocols has resulted in the opportunity for increased use in commercial cattle production systems. However, producers do not have access to simple decision-aid tools using their own data to determine whether implementing a TAI program or purchasing herd sires is more economically feasible. Therefore, we conducted an experiment to generate an economic model that determined that for every cow exposed to a TAI protocol a cattle producer will gain an additional $49 per cow after weaning. Utilizing this economic model we developed the AI Cowculator smartphone and tablet application for iOS and Android systems. Since inception, the AI Cowculator has been downloaded 1,025 times in 38 states and four countries. Features of the application include: 1) a simple calculator to assist producers decide whether to utilize AI or purchase a herd sire. The calculator includes 18 entries divided into three categories (natural service sires costs, herd related costs, and artificial insemination related costs). The output includes a partial budget and provides users an opportunity to email the results to a single email account; 2) a push-pin locator that allows users to locate representatives who perform AI services or suppliers of semen and AI suppliers; 3) a resource icon that allows users to access helpful material for reproduction planning including TAI articles by the Beef Reproduction Task Force, a list of extension documents on beef production and future cattle prices; 4) a gallery of pictures and estrus synchronization protocols recommended by experts in the field; 5) a ‘YouTube’ icon that provides a demonstration on the use of the AI Cowculator; and 6) a social media icon that directs to Facebook and Twitter pages and allow users to share their results. The AI Cowculator Facebook page is updated weekly with relevant reproductive management information and provides technical assistance to users of the application. Information posted on the AI Cowculator Facebook page has reached more than 5,000 users of social media and has been liked by more than 310 people.
Keywords: Smartphone Application, Decision Aid Tool; Artificial Insemination