Record keeping is important for managing any ranch or farm as it can help track inventory, monitor performance, and future calving data. Having organized records also allows one to monitor changes over time and move forward toward goals. The National Farmers Association notes that record-keeping typically gets the least amount of attention among the many tasks of managing cattle, but it should be the centerpiece of any good management program.
When it comes to achieving a more advanced level of management, records are a vital tool for documenting and analyzing precise information for any operation. There are different approaches that can be taken, like tracing individual animals or the whole herd using technology- or written-based methods. No matter what the system, it should be practical to apply while providing unique animal identification that’s easily recognizable and permanent, allowing for maximum efficiency and profitability.
Cattle record keeping is used in a myriad of different ways, including these.
Keeping inventory records is essential as it provides the numbers that are needed to calculate benchmark information. That includes the number of cows exposed to bulls, their numbers at calving time, how many calves are weaned, and the number of cattle sold and purchased.
Being able to identify individual animals is a must. It’s becoming an imperative practice throughout the industry due to biosecurity as it provides the ability to trace your cattle. If you have a cow with foot-and-mouth disease or BSE, for example, you need to be able to show you’ve done everything right. Identification records should include the place of origin of a calf, their date of birth, and their vaccination, health, and treatment records, including the treatments that were given and the dates. That data can be used to track performance and production, make decisions about replacing heifers, and tracking the longevity of the herd.
It’s a good idea to pregnancy-check a herd every year as part of a record-keeping tool. For example, if 5 percent is open, that means it’s costing you money to keep those females. That will allow you to sort and market open cattle easily.
Calving data should also be kept, including the calf and dam ID, the birth date and weight, as well as the death of each animal. Documenting all of this will allow you to use it as criteria for culling late calvers.
Considering the ban on BSE-related feed, it’s important to keep records of feed purchases to prove that you didn’t feed the animals any materials that are at high risk. That should include the supplier, dates, and feed tags, as well as a note that the feed was legal at the time the cattle were fed. Feed records should be kept for a minimum of 10 years.
Costs and Revenue
To understand all the costs that are going into your business, records should be kept that include a cost breakdown by enterprise, such as crop, feeders, cow/calf. Include labor, interest, depreciation, feed, and maintenance for each. You’ll also want to keep income records for every enterprise, including steers, heifers, cull cows, feed, etc.