How to Improve Cattle Record Keeping
Successful cattle management starts with up-to-date, accurate records. In fact, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service requires that beef producers be able to evaluate the effects changes in management have on the productivity of herds. In order to establish the most accurate benchmarks doing so, producers must maintain detailed records on production, herd health, finances, and natural resources.
The process of cattle record keeping allows the manager to collect and save data for it to be analyzed and used to make the best decisions possible for ensuring the success of the operation.
Better Record Keeping = Greater Efficiency and Profits
When you have a good record-keeping system, it eliminates much of the guesswork of decision making, contributing to a ranch or farm that is more efficiently run and more profitable. That makes collecting key data an important step in having the necessary information to understand performance. Collecting, analyzing, and maintaining records requires a time investment, but the ability to make decisions based on accurate data is incredibly valuable, which is why you need production records both pre- and post-changes.
So how can you improve your cattle record-keeping to ensure an efficiently run, profitable operation?
Be Sure to Maintain the Following Records
The best cattle record keeping will include the maintenance of the following records:
Inventory. Inventory is a must as it provides all numbers needed for calculating benchmark information. That means everything from cows exposed to bulls and cows at calving time to the number of calves weaned as well as the number of cattle sold and purchased.
Identification. Individual ID has become an imperative practice throughout the industry. It can be used to track many things and should document a calf’s date of birth, place of origin, vaccination, and treatment records.
Feed purchase records. It’s important to keep names of supplies, dates, and feed tags, as well as a document showing the feed was legal when used.
Weights. Weights should be kept on calves, cows, and bulls, with individual weights better than group weights.
Costs and Revenues. It’s important to understand all business costs, which is best accomplished by breaking them down by enterprise such as hayland or crop, cow and calf, feeders, feed, interest, labor, maintenance, etc. Income for each enterprise should be tracked as well.
Use a Cattle Management Software
Using cattle management software may be the best way to improve record-keeping as it’s imperative to have a reliable system for keeping everything organized all in one place. It can record and track livestock from birth to sale while saving extensive time and effort. You’ll be able to track feed consumption and other feed-related data over the long term to track the impact of dietary changes and grazing patterns that can impact the cattle’s health and productivity. Weights, grazing patterns, health issues, pedigrees, and much more can also be tracked so that the data obtained can be used to create a more efficient, successful operation. It also makes for much easier accounting as it can include a new custom accounting system or integrate accounting software you already have.