Moneyball-based software helps refine livestock herds

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 By: Sarah Terry-Cobo

The Journal Record

Sean Akadiri said he wants his clients to refine livestock herds using a strategy that helped improve the Oakland Athletics baseball team.

The entrepreneur and founder of Agric-Bioformatics is advancing software for improving animal genetics, pitching to ranchers and potential customers. Oklahoma Farm Bureau commodities coordinator Todd Honer said the AgBoost software could be beneficial for ranchers with 20,000 head of cattle as well as those who may have two to three.

Akadiri recently launched the beta version, adding new features from earlier versions. He discussed the software Tuesday with Farm Bureau members at a luncheon.

Users take hair from a cow's tail and send it to a lab for genetic analysis, which is processed and later available to the person on AgBoost's website. The software offers a visual format to sort and rank genetic information about each animal in a herd.

Akadiri likens the process to Moneyball, the name of the book and movie about Oakland baseball team's approach to select the best players for the A's roster using statistical analyses.

"It will help match a bull and heifer and predict the progeny," he said. "It's like playing Moneyball, but with animals."

Akadiri said livestock producers could pick the right animals sooner, saving time and money.

It can take four years to determine if a heifer has produced calves that have the best carcass characteristics and about $2,000 per animal. By examining the ideal genes of each parent before breeding, ranchers can select better pairs in advance, he said. Honer said that means a producer could determine in as little as three weeks that a calf has the right characteristics for breeding within the heard, or is better to sell at auction.

Honer has seen Akadiri''s software as he has developed it over the years and said it was limited when he first began several years ago. Now the software includes commodity prices, a news feed, as well as its visual sorting features. The new features make it more versatile, Honer said.

The software could help those weekend-warrior-ranchers who have a couple of cattle in the backyard, because the person who could maximize profit on each head, he said. For those who have tens of thousands of head of cattle, the software can help streamline the tracking and cataloging process.

Brain Freking works with a cattle producers in the field and suggested changes to Akadiri's software as he moved from alpha  to beta versions. The area livestock specialist with Oklahoma State University's Southeast District Extension service said it's useful for some producers to enter birth dates and birth weights out in the field as soon as a calf is born.

Though Freking provided free spreadsheets and advice to the public, he said Akadiri's software takes the guesswork out of managing computer programs.

"It might not fit every producer," Freking said. "Not all technology needs to be used by everyone, but some of it needs to be incorporated."

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