Good Record Keeping
Keep those records accurate and up to date.
New technological advances in genetics, nutrition and overall cattle
management have spearheaded tremendous increases in productivity of the beef cow.
Cross breeding, genetic improvements, growth implants and new advances in
nutrition can change the cattle industry almost overnight, further improving beef production efficiency. With new
methods of cloning, embryonic transfer and other genetic advancements will further change the industry as they
become adapted and implemented.
Cow-calf producers need to embrace these technologies in order to
sustain themselves in the current competitive market. One of the keys for cattle ranchers who have managed to keep
afloat in the increasingly turbulent seas of ranching technology is the development of a record keeping system to
track production and determine economic efficiency.
The Economic Benefit
The United States Department of Agriculture National Animal Health Monitoring System began
studying effective record keeping systems of beef cow herds in 1997, and found that the end result of a good record
keeping system is ultimately economic, with the majority of those implementing successful systems seeing increased
profits as a result of better management.
Good record keeping allows the producer to measure their production overall, but it is
essential to monitor and track each aspect of overall operations. Among others, a good system included:
o Monitoring of financial resources
o Monitoring of natural resources
o Herd production data
o Overall herd health
o Individual cow health data
o Feed monitoring
o Nutrition monitoring
Commit the Resources
It is important to enter data consistently and ensure accuracy. A good record keeping
system requires a substantial commitment in both time and resources, but in the end you can establish feeding and
management programs based on proven results over time.
Each system must, of course, be tailored to your individual needs. A larger herd will
require more time and more data entry. The majority of large herd producers, with more than 50 cattle, have
implemented computer monitoring and tracking systems, which, once established, can significantly increase record
keeping efficiency. Smaller herds require less of a commitment, and can be monitored on more of an individualized
Once you have identified the parameters, collected the data and studied it, you can
eliminate data collection in certain areas where production efficiencies have not been demonstrated and instead,
focus your efforts on proven and identified measures.
For instance, cost cutting measures that reduce harvested feed use could show to have a
detrimental effect on herd production and the pasture. If implemented, a good record keeping system will clearly
indicate if and when production has slowed, and you can analyze the data to determine the root causes as well as
establish a timeframe. Practices can then be adjusted, certain feed programs changed or eliminated, and production
will ultimately return.
Record Keeping Translates into Profits
Record keeping also keeps pace with consumers, who demand high and documented product
quality. A good record system will provide buyers and consumers with the quality assurance they are looking for.
With certifiable good health and management programs documented over an extended period of time, it can be easier
to justify the higher prices that can be fetched in today’s market.
In the end, the benefits of good record keeping far outweigh the time and relatively
small financial commitment required to implement. In what is an increasingly competitive industry, the producer
with a good record system will no doubt reap the rewards in their wallet.