Record keeping for a 4-H livestock project might involve collecting receipts from the feed store in an envelope or making notes on a feed sack in the barn. But, a new venture for 4-H—a livestock project record app—is allowing members to use their smart devices to keep easier track of their records.

“We know families and teens have smart devices in their hands wherever they go,” said Justin Wiebers, associate 4-H specialist for K-State Research and Extension. “Thanks to sponsorship from Tractor Supply Company, we were able to do research with 4-H families, agents and volunteers around the country—a lot of them from Kansas—to find out what they would need to keep up with their project throughout the year and make record keeping easier and more relevant.”

The answer was the 4-H livestock record app, currently available for free for iOS devices. Wiebers said 4-Hers can use it on their iPhone and iPad, but he hopes it will eventually be available for Android users. The app should be considered for those 4-H members enrolled in market livestock projects, such as market steers, lambs, goats, swine, poultry and rabbits.

“It’s an exciting first step, and we’re looking forward to seeing what kind of feedback we get from it,” he said.

What the app entails

Wiebers served as the project manager for National 4-H Council, which developed the app with funding from Tractor Supply Company and software developers at New Mexico State University. Wherever they are, 4-Hers can type in expenses incurred with their livestock projects and keep track of medications, feeds, activities with the animal, and at sale time, income from the animal.

“We also have a growth tracker, where the 4-H member can enter the animal’s starting weight at the initial weigh-in,” Wiebers said. “They can do that right at the scales. Then subsequent times throughout the year as they weigh in their animal, the app is able to calculate average daily gain, so they can watch that throughout the project year. If they see their rate of gain start to go down, they can make adjustments during that project year, rather than waiting until fair time and just hoping that they’ve reached their goal.”

The app’s features are based on a survey of 150 people from across the country that asked questions related to traditional types of record keeping, as well as record keeping needs, he said.

“We found there is a lot of variation from state to state and even county to county on what is required for record keeping,” Wiebers said. “This app serves as a convenient way for them to collect information. Then they can tell the app to email the information to themselves or their families. Volunteer leaders or extension agents could have the app on their phone to track multiple members, along with multiple animals for each member.”

If a member participates in a demonstration or judging contest, for example, he or she could record this in the app. If he or she takes an office in a local club, that can be added in the app also.

“All the information is stored on the device, so you don’t have to worry about security and it being published out on the Internet,” Wiebers said. “The information is on that phone and can be backed up by the owner.”

He added that the framework for this app will hopefully be adapted to develop similar apps for 4-H horse and other non-market livestock projects.

To find the app, search “4-H Livestock Record” in the iTunes app store. The app is available to anyone. More information about Kansas 4-H is located at Kansas 4-H.