Record Keeping Basics For Beef Cattle

  Good Record Keeping

      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:
     * Monitoring of financial resources
     * Monitoring of natural resources
     * Herd production data
     * Overall herd health
     * Individual cow health data
     * Feed monitoring
     * 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 basis.

     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.

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