The Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is looking for volunteers, nationwide, to help it test an electronic records-keeping system for grazing.
One year of testing is to begin in April, says Chase Hibbard, rancher and leader of the Montana GLCI committee developing this program.
This is a continuation of a project begun in 2010, when the committee released an updated version of "A Stockman's Grazing Record," a record-keeping book which sells for $20 and is still available.
Most beef producers have a calving book in which they record calf birth dates, birth weights, tag numbers and such, but few have a record book for grazing, the group says. The Montana GLCI's book is designed to help a grazier record rainfall, grazing dates in specific pastures, number of bales harvested from specific fields, wildlife activity and more.
It is a three-ring binder that helps grazing managers create an historical record of grazing and pasture management and weather events through the years. Ultimately it becomes a great tool for decision-making and monitoring, say the Montana graziers.
It was created by rancher Jim Carrig, the record book is available through the Montana GLCI for $20. A few pages at the front of the binder provide grazing usage guidelines, terminology definitions and examples on how to use the book.
Last year the Montana GLCI committee decided to put much of its energy and financial resources into the development of prototype electronic version of the recordkeeping book, Hibbard says.
The goal is for the prototype to become an app called GrazeKeeper.
The group of ranchers working on the project is led by Chase and Tyrrell Hibbard, along with Bob Lee, Russell Nemetz, Jim Willis, Jon Siddoway and Carla Lawrence.
For those ranchers who prefer to use up-to-date technology to keep their livestock records, the GrazeKeeper should provide for all of their needs.
Hibbard says the group want to be sure it includes in testing a management-intensive-grazing operator who understands the need for good records. He adds that they are interested in involving any graziers who could be enthusiastically involved in testing and helping develop the project, however.