New BIXS boss wants beef industry to help revamp — and fund — database

Hubert Lau says he hopes industry partners will help ‘build models where everybody wins’

The new operators of BIXS aren’t interested in reinventing the wheel, but want to partner with industry to take the livestock database to the next level.

And while funding for the latest revamp of the Beef InfoXchange System is still being worked out, the money likely won’t come out of farmers’ pockets, said Hubert Lau, executive vice-president of ViewTrak and CEO of the joint venture that will operate BIXS.

“Ultimately what I don’t want is to have a situation where producers are always going to get hit with the money side of things,” said Lau. “I don’t have the answer, but my hope is that we’ll have discussions with different industry partners to create a model that makes BIXS viable for the long term.”

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ViewTrak, an Edmonton-based technology and traceability company, partnered with the Canadian Cattleman’s Association to take over BIXS in December. The new joint venture wants to work with software developers who have created similar, but more detailed, databases for the feedlot industry to improve BIXS.

“It doesn’t make sense to do everything from scratch,” said Lau. “What makes sense is to try and build models where everybody wins.”

Getting more cow-calf producers to use BIXS is critical to its future, but to do that the system needs to provide more detailed calf-to-carcass data in a user-friendly way that allows producers to profitably adjust their management and breeding programs.

Lau has been meeting with software companies that have created that sort of system for feedlots and others in the beef supply chain. He is also talking to members of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which wants to see an industry-wide database that will combine production information with data on things such as animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

The company is currently exploring two or three different funding models for a revamped BIXS, said Lau.

“What we’re trying to do is verify whether or not the industry partners will support us with those models,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what we think in our office. Ultimately, it’s a collaboration and everyone has to buy into it or it won’t work.”

Some individual producers have been consulted on plans for the new BIXS, and Lau said wider producer consultations will be held in the near future.

“Alberta Ag will be putting together a road show in the middle of February, so I will be on tour to talk to people, look them in the eye and hear what they have to say,” he said.

ViewTrak’s development team has also met with Arcurve, the software company that originally developed BIXS 2.0, to compare notes and technical information, he said.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, she has also published two collections of poetry and a biography about a Sikh civil rights activist. Her freelance work has appeared in numerous publications across Canada.

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