Sep 21, 2023

Company scales up automated cattle weighing

Published: August 5, 2023



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An automated weigh scale, built to be dropped into almost any point in the cattle production chain, delivers individual knowledge data on animals in real time.


Six unbranded Longhorn cattle stolen from a pasture near Highway 564 and Range Road 262 in Alberta were likely loaded…

That data can be used to make decisions on cattle health, rates of gain and the readiness of animals for market.

“We’re missing a live KPI (key performance indicator) for the feedlots,” says Michéal McInerney, co-founder of StrongBó.

The company is based in Ireland, but McInerney lives in Hamilton, Ont., where he works with Marty Metzger of Ontario’s Metzger Veterinary Services, his co-founder in the business.

”Being able to analyze data from the individual level, to make macro decisions on individual data, not just on weight gain, but fat cover,” will help farmers accurately value the animals in the herd before they go to market, says McInerney.

The system is being tested in New Zealand, Australia, England, Ireland, the United States and Canada and is expected to be ready for sale in January 2024.

In Western Canada, Metzger says the scale could be used in feedlots to pull heavier cattle and learn how different groups of animals are doing. It could also be useful for ranchers who don’t run cattle through a chute for manual weighing.

A weigh scale from StrongBó is working in the feedlot at Dave Gardiner Farms near Exeter, Ont.

When Shauna Soudant, her husband Ron and children Lexi and Jackson took over her father Dave Gardiner’s 2,200-head feedlot, they were ready for expansion.


In September 2021, the family welcomed the first load of cattle into their new fabric-covered facility. The new build provided better ventilation, footing, lighting and space for the cattle and less competition at the bunk compared to their older, still-in-use barn.

Designed to meet current and future animal welfare regulations, the new barn and the Soudant’s technology use could be a game-changer.

The Soudants feed cattle from the United States, Ontario and Western Canada. Import requirements involve significant data and paperwork to maintain their restricted status so they use several programs and tools to ensure seamless tracking of all cattle coming and going from their facility.

At the Gardiner farm, the information from the StrongBó unit is automatically linked to the animals’ RFID tags, creating no-stress tracking for the animal, optimizing diet and increasing profit by allowing for timely cattle marketing.

McInerney says he would welcome a co-operator from Western Canada.

The StrongBó system is designed to be dropped into a pen or a pasture, as a self-contained unit.

There’s a salt and mineral block in the unit to entice cattle and they only need to put their front feet on the scale for it to get a reading.


That means much less steel and construction are needed and it is easier to convince the animal to visit the unit.

“There is actually a very, very strong correlation between whole weight and front weight,” says Metzger. “It varies by breed of animal, but not much, within four percent of whole animal weight with the front weight.”

He says livestock farmers who often use total mixed ration (TMR) mixers understand how finicky weigh bars can be. Having fewer of them in the StrongBó unit, with only a need for front feet weight, means more reliability, says Metzger.

There are other ways being designed to capture data in feedlots, including drone imagery and facial recognition, but there are few data-gathering systems for cattle that work on pasture.

McInerney says the StrongBó system is self-contained and can be moved around a pasture with an ATV or small tractor. It has all the data collection and communication technology on board and connects to data servers mostly by satellite, but also by cellphone signal for software updates.

Individual weights on cattle can alert the rancher when a cow might struggle to maintain weight with a health issue. Backgrounders can also better individually manage their cattle on grass.

In parts of the world where cattle are still finished on grass, McInerney says the system has value in helping to understand when best to market the animals.


StrongBó recently raised $1.1 million, which included funding from Gallagher, the global livestock management tools company, and Canadian funders.

“Being able to regularly weigh livestock while in the paddock can mean real savings in labour output and potentially down the track it may enable them to track the more feed-efficient animals and lower greenhouse gas emitters,” says Sarah Adams, general manager of Strategy and New Ventures for Gallagher Animal Management.

“Remote weighing also keeps cows on-feed 24-7, allowing them to maximize weight gain, therefore reducing the need and stress from traipsing up to the yard for weighing.”


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