What records to keep?

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Mark Reynolds

Well-known member
May 30, 2023
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Ohio, South-East Ohio and South Carolina
Quite often I hear producers and/or colleges of mine touting how important it is to keep records. And then there are programs out there for purchase that organize all your records. And then there are pocket record books that you can carry into the pasture with yourself. Unfortunately, what I find all too often is that producers don't keep any records.

I don't have a good explanation as to why they don't keep records as records can have a significant impact on the bottom line, IF the records are used. Some reasons for no records I suspect is that "I couldn't record it at the time (no immediate access)". I've seen the 'programs' or 'pocket record books' that are available and "That is too much to record" or "I don't need 99% of that stuff" or "I'm ashamed of that value (so I don't want to record it to remind me)". I could continue with the list but would probably never get all the reasons.

However, Record keeping doesn't have to be excessive or complicated. You don't have to record everything under the sun as some record trackers indicate. What you NEED to record is information that you know will be helpful to you at some point or information that you THINK may be helpful at some point.

Calving dates are important. I worked with a producer one time that didnt record this. Upon examination, he had a half dozen (or more) cows that hadn't calved in multiple years (he had 20 cows total).

In addition to individual animal records (you decide what you need on each animal) you need to keep records on your pastures. Day you turn in, day animals are removed from the pasture, height of the forage going in, height of the forage coming out, soil test results and dates, amendments added and quantities, seedings (with what, how, date) consider adding notes about weather conditions.

Records are quite valuable because they show what happened in the past to get you where you are today. Knowing what happened in the past allows you to repeat it if you want to, or avoid it like the plague if you have ended up somewhere you are at at the current moment you would rather not be.

What does everyone record and WHY?
@Brute 23 recently had a thread about cattle records. He's like my soul brother because we both record EVERYTHING on spreadsheets. Plus, my CPA loves me.

A cows calving date and calf production. ( is he the second calf born, but smallest of the group at weaning?)
When we turn out bulls, vacc records, cow ages, treatments. Those are the big ones.
Pelvic measurements, alternative id's (tattoo, brand, other tags)
Input costs are at home on the computer.
Hopefully next year a scale will be possible.
@Brute 23 recently had a thread about cattle records. He's like my soul brother because we both record EVERYTHING on spreadsheets. Plus, my CPA loves me.

I saw that right after I created this thread. The CATTLE records are pretty much a necessity, but so are the PASTURE records.
I have "Calf Book" - a program on my computer and phone. We can update it on our phone out in the field - or on the computer. Any phone can log in if I give them the password. So, my "kids" (4-H kids) have access and can keep track of how everything is happening in up to date timing. They love it. While they were here today, they ear notched their calves for BVD-PI test.
I have 1 calendar that I keep ALL my cattle happenings and all my pasture movements. All heats and next possible due dates.
I keep all records for calving, breeding, vaccinations, worming, weaning, ADG, WPDA, adj WW. I am on THE (Total Herd Enrollment) with Amer Simmental Assn. So, every cow calving is reported every year. If no calf - have to give a reason. So, I can print a full calving record on each cow.
I'm kind of anal about records also.

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