Saturday, October 27, 2007

Goat Management Software

When we had goats in Arizona, I bought the Goat Breeder's Notebook software to keep track of all of the information. It's been sitting on my computer all this time, so I decided to try using it with my current goats. Oh, my. I can't believe I never noticed before how unintuitive and downright buggy this software is. I spent a fair bit of time putting in goat-related expenses, saved them all, and then none of them showed up in a report! And if you mark an animal as dead, you cannot undo it short of restoring an earlier version of the database. Yet there's no warning that it is a permanent action.

In disgust, I decided to search for some slightly more professional software. Most of what I found was either really low-level, or very expensive, but Ranch Manager: Goat Edition looked like a nice combination of quality software for a decent price. So I requested a trial version and have spent the evening playing with it. The trial version is the full program with a 30 day limit, so if I decide to buy it I'll already have all of my information entered.

So far, it has been reasonably intuitive to use, and there are some very nice features. One of the best things is that you can define different locations on your land (pastures, pens, barns, etc) and can keep track of where any given goat is at any time. The really cool part is as soon as a buck is in the same location as a doe or group of does, the software automatically calculates the earliest due dates for the does. You can also draw maps of your locations, and then add hyperlinks in the maps to the individual records.

I do have a few nitpicks. For the map thing, it would be really nice if you could upload maps as well as draw them. In the individual goat records, the photo uploader always starts in the same spot, one of the data folders for the software, so it takes a good five clicks to navigate to my image folder. It would be sanity-saving if it would remember the last folder it opened and start there instead, the way most programs do.

I've got another 29 days to play with this software, and I'm going to throw everything I can think of at it. If I'm still reasonably happy with it at the end of the trial, I'll probably buy it. This company also has special discounts if you buy more than one species' software together, which would be really nice if I had cattle, sheep, or horses. Too bad they don't have a poultry management edition.

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