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Smart phone, choices

It’s said you should never stop learning, and now one University of Missouri graduate student is delivering knowledge into the hands of beef cattle producers everywhere.

Mindy Montgomery, 25, a native of Malta Bend, launched the Beef Cattle EPD application, or app, in January. The app is available on Android smart phones and Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. This new technology allows producers to access the explanations of each breed’s EPDs, or expected progeny differences, and then see how their own cattle stack up against current breed averages — all with the touch of a finger.

Montgomery grew up on a diversified grain crop operation in central Missouri, but entered the cattle business with a 4-H heifer project. Today, she and her family market farm-raised beef, so it’s no surprise that Montgomery learned a great deal about the industry from her own experiences, as well as from her studies.

Key Points

An MU grad student has created a smart phone app for beef producers.

Mindy Montgomery’s new Beef Cattle EPD app will allow users to compare data.

This may be just the beginning for similar technology to be developed.

In 2007, she graduated from MU with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and took a job with Cattle Visions. While at Cattle Visions, Montgomery would often see producers make breeding decisions based solely on the bull’s birth weight and picture, instead of taking into account how that animal ranked compared to the breed averages, and in what areas their own herds needed to improve.

Back to the books

Now pursuing her master’s in agricultural education, Montgomery saw the perfect opportunity to help educate beef producers about performance data when she received a course assignment.

The assignment challenged students to come up with a new way to teach people about agriculture. As her classmates talked about making videos or creating surveys, Montgomery had a very different idea.“I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if I can make an app?’ ” she says. “And then I did.”

One class assignment morphed into nearly four months of work. During those months, Montgomery programmed the application and compiled data from 10 breed associations — Angus, Charolais, Chianina, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Maine Anjou, Red Angus, Shorthorn and Simmental — into simple and easy-to-understand charts.

“I’m just releasing the information again,” she says, “all in one place.”The project now serves as the creative portion of her master’s program. The app, which can be downloaded free of charge, has a link to a survey with 10 quick questions for users to answer.

The six multiple-choice and the four fill-in-the-blank questions are designed to help Montgomery know who uses the application, and how they use it to help their beef operation. This information will then be used to prove the value of using smart phone applications as a way to distribute information throughout the cattle industry.

What’s ahead?

Montgomery sees the possibilities for this technology as virtually limitless. Since most producers do not carry computers with them but often have their phones, they could easily access the latest industry information.

Someday, she sees breed associations using this technology, as well as opportunities for livestock-related businesses to advertise on the apps.

Maupin is a University of Missouri agricultural journalism student. E-mail her at

How to use the Beef Cattle EPD

Join the 700-plus beef cattle producers who downloaded Mindy Montgomery’s free Beef Cattle EPD app within the first two weeks.

First, log into the app store and search for Beef Cattle EPD. Click on the application and then download it. Once the application is downloaded, the home screen will appear. On the home screen, there is a link to the application’s Facebook page, which will have all the latest information and updates regarding the app.

There is also an e-mail address to contact Montgomery if you have questions regarding the application. The last link on the home screen will take users to the 10-question survey. The questions are confidential, and the responses will be used to better understand how producers use the new technology.

Next, look at the tabs along the bottom of the screen. After touching “breed averages,” the screen will show a list of the major breeds. Touch the breed of interest to access a chart containing the percentile ranking and average EPD numbers for that breed. This chart may also include the high and low figure for each EPD if the breed association releases it.

Touch the “EPD definitions” tab and then choose a breed to review data and make decisions.

The last tab is “DNA technology.” It features information on both Igenity and Pfizer’s genetic testing programs, including how to interpret the scores.


CATTLE CALL: MU graduate student Mindy Montgomery has created a Beef Cattle EPD application, or app, for smart phones. This new technology allows producers to access the explanations of each breed’s expected progeny differences, and then see how their own cattle stack up against current breed averages.

This article published in the March, 2011 edition of MISSOURI RURALIST.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.