From the Spring 2024 issue of the Isa Informer

Harnessing the power of ranching’s new A.I.

By Lorenzo Lasater, President

Full disclosure: I asked Chat GPT (A.I.) to research this article. If you haven’t tried it out, do so. It provides information similar to a Google search, without the dozens of ads you have to sift through to find the answer.

I’ve written a lot about A.I. (artificial insemination) through the years, but the other A.I.—or artificial intelligence—is all the buzz lately. But what does it mean for an ancient craft like cattle raising? That’s still a bit fuzzy, but the possibilities are intriguing.

A.I. excels at analyzing tons of data and spotting trends, irregularities or anomalies. It can complete this analysis very quickly, and that information can then be harnessed to make routine decisions or anticipate trends or automate processes that used to require a person. As you can tell from past discussions on technology, I am a huge fan of using available tools to improve processes and move things more efficiently. But A.I. is still in its infancy and hard to wrap our minds around.

What do possible applications look like for the cattle rancher in the future? Following is a list of ways that A.I. could assist in herd management:

• EPD analysis
• Genomic selection
• Grazing management
• Counting and tracking cattle
• Analyzing customer buying habits
• Anticipating market trends
• Health management
• Optimizing nutrition levels and feeding schedules
• Weather and environmental data to anticipate drought
­­­­• Automated sorting for weight and finish
• Drone cameras
• Heat detection and breeding timing
• Pregnancy detection, including fetal age and sex
• Analyzing herd historical records to find outliers

I created this robot cow graphic using A.I. on I literally said “draw a robot cow” and got this image 12 seconds later.

Cool, huh? But what about its actual uses today? Following are some real-world A.I. examples Isa Beefmasters employs:

We began using Ranchbot ( remote water monitoring devices last year and love the technology. The windmill in the image is about an hour and a half from my house, at the absolute back of the ranch over rough ranch roads. Someone must drive all the way back there several times a week, just to be sure it is pumping. Now, we get an automated alert if it falls below a critical level (indicating windmill down) or falls rapidly (leak). We can also utilize the technology to switch pumps on and off automatically at predetermined levels. It also functions as a rain gauge. Checking rainfall from my bed is a new favorite!

At the recent NCBA convention in Florida, we visited the 701X booth ( They have developed GPS tags specifically for bulls. The tag tracks their location, movement, and breeding information. It uses accelerometers to know when a bull mounts, so you can see remotely which bulls are working and which are not. If they stop moving you are alerted to a problem immediately, and if they get out of the pasture, you can find them more easily. We will be implementing this technology for the spring breeding season. Watch for updates!

Additionally, we use CattleMax software ( for managing our herd inventory. I put a lot of thought into herd information and collect a lot of data on each calf crop, but then we file those spreadsheets away at weaning. Traditionally, there was not a connection between the years. Cattlemax reporting has helped us deep-dive into the historical data to highlight trends in growth and fertility, as well as identify outliers in the cow herd.

Ranchbot remote water monitoring provides us with real-time readings for our hard-to-reach tanks.
Drovers magazine recently published an interesting piece on using facial-recognition cameras to predict pinkeye in confinement cattle 99.4% of the time and several days before veterinarians were able to detect symptoms. (Editor’s note: Beefmasters have a natural resistance to pinkeye.)

According to Mike Clawson, a USDA Agricultural Research Service molecular biologist and project researcher, “Early detection of disease is critical to healthy herd management—giving producers the chance to separate sick animals, control spread and judiciously use antibiotics before a large outbreak occurs.” You can read the complete story on in the article titled “Study Confirms Facial Recognition Technology’s Success in Disease Prediction.”

Artificial intelligence is the new frontier in data management. While still in the very early stages, this incredible technology can wield much power in beef cattle production. Isa Beefmasters is proud to be “early ­­­adopters” of new technology, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds. The possibilities are limitless, and I think the Beef industry needs to embrace the change to remain competitive.

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