Back to the (Cattle Markets) Future

Jun 21, 2022

Wall Street investors have all kinds of software to help predict markets for a trading advantage, but cattle and corn markets are a different beast.

Enter a group of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) students who developed software to predict cattle markets. Graduating seniors Jordan Baumeister, Dustin Reff and Trevor Borman are computer science students who used AI and data science to develop accurate models.

The backstory: A long time ago (29 years) in a land (not so) far away… Ron Ragsdale, a cattle rancher, worked with SDSMT student Todd Gange on the very same problem. He shared his pen and paper calculation predictions using equations with Gange.

Soundbite: “What he did was genius,” Gagne says. “He looked at the futures market for both cattle and corn and backed out all the costs needed to fatten his calves. He used 187 variables, not just feed. He included the costs of the lights in his barn, vaccination, and fuel. This way, he knew what he could pay for his calves to make a profit in the future.”

Gange took his calculations and beefed them using a computer program he and his wife had created in college. The program predicted risk vs. reward and best times to buy and sell

Now, years later, the three SDSMT students are continuing to improve and rebuild this original system and will continue to coach the next team as the next phase of the project begins.