Here’s my “shopping” list every time I am offered to buy a new feed formulation program. Keep in mind, please, that I am a consulting nutritionist and I also manufacture and sell a couple my own piglet feeds. Hence, I don’t have the same needs as a large feed mill that employs numerous nutritionists, or has to worry about hundreds of formulas and inventories, tags, intermediate premixes, etc. I am in the small to medium category market with a restricted budget and an unlimited “needs” list, but let’s focus on the six most important for now:
- The ideal feed formulation program should be simple enough not to require a dedicate assistant to run.
- It is user-friendly, preferably working even on a Mac platform, but definitely it is not an MS-DOS conversion. Ideally, it can function on a Cloud service, but also as a stand-alone.
- It performs all advanced formulation techniques (nutrient ratios, ingredient equations, etc.), without restrictions that require further in-app payments to unlock.
- It provides for customization in printouts depending on the amount of information required by the end user, as sometimes too much information is just inhibiting.
- The program does not require an annual license or maintenance fees.
- It provides for ingredient databases per client, especially when it comes to prices.
After having worked with all three major software providers, and tested several minor ones, I am still looking for the ideal program to suit my needs and my budget. Perhaps I am too picky, but only because so far I have been able to do all of the above and even more (including least cost formulation) using an Excel spreadsheet.
I almost bought a new package several years ago, based on a recommendation, but the deal broke when I was denied a demo. Who buys software today without being able to “play” for a week or so? Even video games provide for such first-hands experience!