Sheep Flock Management Software

I am seriously considering purchasing some software to manage my sheep flock’s breeding program. Though I only have six ewes, I’m thinking of buying more, and possibly unregistered ones that I would use in a grade-up program with the purebred ram.

And, I’ve realized that these Katahdin pedigrees are very hard to read– all numbers. They charge $100 extra if you want to assign a name to a “special” animal; which obviously discourages naming.

I have a pet peeve with any animal registry that doesn’t encourage easy-to-read, unique naming conventions. Though AKC dogs, race horses and the like can often have silly, superfluous names, it does allow for easy pedigree reading. You can always remember something like “that animal is out of Howdy Rowdy and Mrs. Slick.” MUCH easier to read and recall than “by 15064 out of 33870.” I can’t stand the Border Collie world’s convention of single-syllable dog names either, my head swims with trying to differentiate Jane Doe’s “Moss” from Billy Jones’ “Moss”. There can be a dozen different dogs all named Moss in the same pedigree! 🙁

So, back to my software choices, I’ve been searching the web for what options are out there. I respect software developers who know how to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to market their product, and am highly suspicious of software developed by anybody who cannot get their product on the first page of a google search. I’ve decided, too, that I don’t want to spend more than about $100 for the software, and preferably a lot less. I do like the idea of Palm Pilot extensions, because I’m already taking notes on my Palm phone when out in the field. So, here is what I found that is under consideration.

High relevancy in google searches:

FlockFiler is $50. I find their website to be a little cluttered and weird. I did read some good reviews on it on a discussion list. Free demo. The beta test “pro” version has some promising features for interesting genetic relations analysis; but it costs $296. More than I want to spend.

Sheep Breeders Notebook has two editions, “basic” for $39, “business edition” for $97. No support for Windows Vista, though that’s ok with me for now, I’m still running XP. Free demo. Nice website. I think I’m going to need the business edition, however, for full pedigree support.

ZooEasy is $79; they have a very professional-looking website. Free demo too.

Breeder’s Assistant: website made me lose interest before even finding the price. Looks like combined cattle/sheep/goat software-I’m not sure I like that. Maybe I’ll give them a second look.

Low relevancy (page 2 or me finding them through someone else mentioning them):

Lion Edge Technologies offers a Palm Pilot extension. It promises good pedigree analysis; as I know I’m going to be challenged to prevent inbreeding over time. $200 for the package.

TGM Software Solutions “Select Sheepware” also offers a Palm companion. Their prices are based on number of ewes, with <100 ewes being $100. No price listed for sheep PDA software.

Ewebite seems way too costly ($400) and their website seems Canada-centric. I’d go crazy if the units were all in the metric system!

Sheep Master Gold has a not-very-good website, and they keep highlighting the word milk, which leads me to believe they are a dairy sheep-centric business. $95. MDI Sheep Management Software is $239, too much.

Ewefarm has an attractive website, but I could not find pricing info on there and their product page just says “coming soon.” Elsewhere, it mentions that they only have a Canadian version right now.

Ovitec has a really cool website, and their marketers did a great job on their logos and product naming conventions (just not on their SEO). Additionally, they have a Freeware version of it that you can start with and use indefinitely, though it looks severely de-featured. But the cheapest upgraded version is $479, good for 1,000 ewes–probably too sophisticated for me! It sounds like this product was developed with Spanish as the primary language and later translated into English; one review I read said that they’ve missed quite a few translations here and there.

My next step is checking out the free demos: I have the top three downloaded, and have tinkered with two so far. I’ll report back soon.

4 thoughts on “Sheep Flock Management Software

  1. Kelly Bruce says:

    Hi Bud,
    Im in the same boat as you & recently tried the 30 day free trial for Select Sheepware..Im on XP Pro and found the program very unresponsive…hence Im Still looking. also breeding Hair sheep.

  2. workingcollies says:

    Hi Kelly, indeed, it is a hard choice. I did finally decide, I’ll write a new post with my rationale. Thanks for the comment!
    Michelle

  3. Debbie Scott says:

    Hi Michelle, I came across your post while searching for software. We’re just starting a business for meat production of goats. We have 38 females, several pregnant. We jumped in quick and I need some advice on tracking software. I see your post is almost a year old. If you get this, I would appreciate your input on what you decided on and how it has worked for you. Thanks!

    • workingcollies says:

      Hi Debbie!
      Whoo, 38 does, congratulations, sounds like a lot of work and fun! Here is my post on the software I picked (Ranch Manager). I love it and use it all the time. Being able to note things on the Palm pilot in the field is invaluable, as well as looking up stuff when I’m out there, like parentage and due dates. My Palm does better in the rain than a paper notebook would, and saves me the step of transferring info later. And having breeding records organized and due dates auto-calculated is great. It does 60 and 120 day adjusted weight calcs, which will be valuable to you if you are breeding for meat production. It also does a pretty nice job of printing scrapie inventory records, if you need that (and they have promised to work on some improvements I requested, based on the reports our state vet requires).

      I also really appreciate their pedigree analyzer, which will highlight in red areas where inbreeding would occur, given a ewe/ram combo. Our pedigrees just have ear tag #s (not like some show breeds of animals where they all have fancy, memorable names); so it’s nearly impossible to read all the numbers and spot it if you have one duplicating too much in a pedigree. The flip side of this is you have to be very careful when entering the data, that you do it consistently- if you have a space in the ear tag # of one record, and none in the other, the software won’t be able to detect that it’s the same animal.

      The software has a few bugs I’ve spotted, it sometimes doesn’t synch mating records right when I return to my PC and I have to fix them by hand (it’s recoverable though). And it’s a bit naive about predicting breeding if you leave the males in with the females year-round, probably because most people don’t do that (I think it should pessimistically assume the females were bred at the earliest possible time). But overall, it’s a good software package; and the company is responsive when I email them questions or requests.

      Of course I can’t say how it compares to the other packages out there, other than what their marketing materials tell us. But I can definitely say that having software is great- much, much better than doing it in a notebook or on a spreadsheet or something.

      Good luck!
      Michelle

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