Livestock Record Keeping
Record keeping is a task that is dreaded by some. However in an industry with tight profit margins, such as livestock production, efficient record keeping can be the difference between a profitable year, or one in the red.
There are many systems and strategies out there for livestock record keeping. The most essential thing is to pick a system that will work for you, and that you can maintain over the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
All livestock record keeping systems should incorporate some basic elements. These pieces of the record will be essential no matter what system you use, and can help you make decisions for your business and track the progress of your herd over time. First, you may choose to separate your livestock records into production records and financial records. If your animals are in a herd, it may be easier to track feed expenses by the herd, or species, rather than the individual animal. Financial records will also include labor, marketing, and property expenses.
Production records will vary from species to species. Items to include on the production record are:
- Animal information: identification, date of birth/age, breed, sire and dam
- Performance: breeding dates, sire information that the animal was bred to, parturition dates, identification of progeny
- Production records: pounds of milk produced for dairy animals, and dam to calf weight ratios for beef animals
- Health records: vaccinations, illness and medication, deworming, dental care, hoof trimming, and any other health related items need to be recorded. If medication is being administered you should record the name of the medication, dose, who administered, how much was administered, and the injection location.
- Feeding records: Even if you keep you feed financials separate, keep a record of the animal’s type of feed intake; hay, silage, grain, and supplements. You can track an animal’s performance yearly. Going back to your feed records will help you determine if feed changes impacted production or performance.
Speaking of feed, it’s important to record the types of grain, results of forage and silage analysis tests, and supplements you livestock herd receives in your record keeping system. Animal feed and nutrition play an integral role in performance and production, and accurate records allow you to consult with your nutritionist, and make the best possible decisions for your herd.
There are many different systems you can use for livestock record keeping. A paper record keeping system is always a good place to start, it’s simple and low cost. However, there are disadvantages. Papers can get lost, a spilled cup of coffee can have a disastrous effect, and you generally can’t utilize a paper record keeping system when you’re out working with your animals. An electronic record keeping system has the benefits of being hosted in the cloud for accessibility on your smartphone, and can be accessed by multiple farm managers if needed. There are many different electronic record keeping systems available, including customizable options.
Detailed record keeping systems reap many benefits for your livestock operation. You can track efficiency and find changes that could lead to improvements in your herd. Any record keeping system is better than none, start small and implement record keeping into your livestock business.
I'm Jason Callison co-founder of the FarmApp. I started a small-boutique farm at the young age of 41. Like many others, I wanted to grow natural and healthy food for my community. It's through this farming experience that inspired me to create a new farm management solution.
We are proud to be a member of and support the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association since 2017