Friday, May 24, 2024

The Important Records to keep on your Ruminant Farm

There are many records that you have to keep on your ruminant farm among which include; date records which will show the date the animals were purchased, the birth date which will show when any animal was born, the wean date which shows the date any of your animals was weaned, the death date which will show your mortality record when any animal was killed, etc.

There should also be vaccination and treatment records where every vaccination or treatments given to your animals will be recorded, mortality record which is where any animal that died will be recorded, mating record which will show the date the animal’s mate, financial records which shows the financial expenses and implications of the ruminant farm. etc. all these records are necessary so that you can know the state of your animals and the farm at all time.

Also as much as possible, visitors should be discouraged from having access to your ruminant farm. This is to prevent spread of diseases from other ruminant farms to your ruminant farm.

Your sales point should not be close to your production site. If visitors must enter your farm for whatever reason then provision must be made for proper disinfection before they are allowed access to your farm.

Record keeping is a necessary element of good livestock business management in any ruminant farm. With no written records, farmers have to depend on their memory while making decisions regarding their farm practices. But, memories can become unreliable after a few days, months or years.

Thus, recording of the performances of the animals can be done easily if animals have some identifications / numberings. Thus, both animal recording and identification are always required. There are several useful records such as production and financial transactions in the dairy enterprise.

If we know what is happening on the dairy farm we need to maintain some useful farm records. Farm records are like the progress report cards students get at school. If farmers have farm records, they can tell how well they are managing their farm in comparison to other farmers.

They can also see the strengths and weaknesses in their farm operations. It is also important to have accurate facts and figures when borrowing money, seeking government loans and tax returns.

Read Also: How to castrate Ruminant Male Animals, the Risks involved and How to tackle it at the best age

 Types of Ruminant Farm Records

The Important Records to keep on your Ruminant Farm

The major types of records which are all described below: 
1. Identification
2. Breeding 
3. Production 
4. Feeding
5. Disease and treatment records
6. Financial records

1. Identification Records

An identification method should be cheap, not harming the animal,reliable to read at a distance of at least 2-3 metres and by preference be permanent.

Identification of the animals is of course not necessary if a farm has only one animal of a certain species, sex and age group. 

Identification of animals is usually through use of numbering, by marking of the animal and by description of certain characteristics of the animal. The latter is the most animal friendly, and can be done in practice by drawing e.g. the different color spots of the animals, or certain cowlicks, or taking photos. Giving the animals names and keeping a table with the characteristics of the animal and link it to the name can work in many cases.

Intrusive methods of identification can be subdivided into 2 categories: permanent at the animal itself (which affect the animals most when doing it) and non-permanent. 

a) Permanent Identification 

  • Tattooing (ear or under)
  • Brand (Hot iron, freeze and chemicals)
  • Ear-notching, Punching
  • Tags (Ear-tags, Flank-tags, tail-tags and Brisket-tags; permanent if they do not fall off)

b) Non-Permanent identification 

  • Collars or neck or leg straps (chains)
  • Paint and dyes (can be very animal friendly, but if the paint is full of chemicals it is not healthy and is not recommended, please check)

2. Breeding Records

The importance of breeding records is to measure the productive efficiency of the herd and to enable selection. For example, many farmers would like a cow or a goat which gives birth yearly, or a sow 2 litters per year.

Therefore, an accurate up-to-date breeding record of each individual female is necessary. An indicator for fertility/efficiency of mating or inseminations is e. g the number of matings or inseminations needed to get an animal pregnant. 

If many matings or inseminations are needed, it can indicate that there is a problem with the female or the male, or it can indicate that the observation of the heats is not efficient, or the semen, the technique of insemination is insufficient, or the feeding is imbalanced.

If the cow is taken to a bull, it can be the cow or the bull which has a problem. Data for insemination or service with a male also is needed to be reminded when the female should be prepared before giving birth, e.g. like in the cow’s case, to be dried off in time. 

The most important data in breeding records include:

  • Pedigree/parentage (name or other identification of parents and grand parents)
  • Fertility (dates of all services (this also allows calculating the number of services per conception), dates of giving birth (allows to calculate the age of first calving/giving birth and the period between successive birth)
  • Birth details (number and weight of newborns, was assistance necessary? Stillborn / perinatal deaths / vitality score)

3. Production Records

These records are useful in measuring the performance of the animals and the herd. It contributes greatly to the economic appraisal of the enterprise. It can help farmers take decisions on investments, based on how many animals produce how much on the farm, so how much surplus can the family expect?

The records can also be used by the whole sector to improve the genetics of the animals in the country, with specific focus on the production. 

Production records are kept of:

  • Animal products like eggs per hen per week and milk per cow per day in combination with milk quality data, and of
  • Animals which are slaughtered, in terms of for example weight, weaning age and weight, daily gain, production period, and how many animals e.g. per litter reached slaughtering.

Production records are also necessary when farmers start selling products together, to know how much is available every day or every week or in a certain period. 

Read Also: Rabbit Record Keeping and Analysis

4. Feeding Records

Feeding records give information about the amount, type and quality of the feed. Feeding records can be used both for day to day management and adjustment of the feed ration.

Together with the production data, it can for example be used to adjust if a milking cow needs more concentrate, or help in decisions about examining animals which seem to not grow, but still eat very much. It can also be used for planning of activities related to feed conservation and establishment of grazing areas in the following season. 

The important feeding records are:

  • Produced and available fodder on farm; quantity and if possible quality of the different feeds. Including content of energy, protein and minerals
  • A feeding plan which tells how much feed is required per day per animal in different age groups (grown-ups, newborn, pregnant the first time etc.) or per group of animals (hens):
  • Left-over feed if any (per head and per feed, if possible)
  • Spoilage (per batch)

5. Disease and treatment records

Disease and treatment records are necessary to keep track of the disease events in which each animal is involved during its lifetime. This can guide to better management practices by leading the attention to repeated events or certain vulnerable groups of animals over time (e.g. it can show how animals almost always need disease treatments during weaning).

It provides information about the health status of each individual animal and the whole heard, and it can help ensuring important vaccinations given at the right time. 

On basis of the disease and treatment records, success of interventions both for prevention and treatment can also be evaluated. 

After treatment with dewormers, acaricides and antibiotics and other medicines, milk, eggs and meat cannot be eaten by humans for some time. The records are essential for keeping track of this, e.g. when this withdrawal time is over. In organic animal husbandry, the withdrawal time is normally longer than the ordinary withdrawal time (double, or three times).

Disease and treatment records can for example involve: 

  • Disease occurrence and date
  • All handlings to cure diseases (also non chemical treatment)
  • Vaccination
  • Dipping/spraying
  • Treatment
  • De-worming
  • Postmortem

6. Financial Records

The records of the costs and earnings related to the animal farming be kept for cash analysis and enterprise appraisal. 

In most households, the most necessary records are simple overview over the family cash flow, that is, the total economy in the household: what comes in? and what do we buy?

In addition to this, keeping records of the animal enterprises is and important part, because it can show whether it gives an income to the family or not. If records are kept particularly for the animal herd as an income generating commodities, it will help the family to see what they invest in it, and what it costs to produce it.

Also in relation to the animal farm, an investment is more than an expenditure, an investment hopefully enables and improves the production in the future. It is also important to count approximately how many hours of work it has taken in the animal herd, because it can help price setting. 

Economic records are of paramount interest in providing the farmer with information concerning the profitability of his farm. Moreover they are of great help in decision making at the right time. For example, is it profitable to feed concentrates, is it advisable to apply for a loan or credit to invest in a machinery or technology?

Answering these questions is only possible if adequate records are available. Moreover, for tax purposes and for the purpose of getting loans or credit, economic records are required.

Advantages of livestock (Ruminant Farm) record keeping 

  1. Aids in determining the inflow and outflow, in economics terms, of the ruminant farm.
  2. Helps in setting proper pricing for animals which has to be sold at the auction.
  3. Provide insights for designing better breeding plans. 
  4. Supports in overall farm management.
  5. Assist in the formulation of economic feeding approaches in order to improve company’s  production.
  6. Track record of disease allows  to discover unusual animal conditions.
  7. Offers basis  to evaluate and select the animals ready to be slaughtered.
  8. Provide history of counteractive measures taken in the previous years in emergency situation, such as vaccines used to treat animals affected by diseases. 
  9. Provides a comparison between different year’s profit/loss allowing to  to set future objectives  for the farm.
  10. Useful  to verify the effectiveness of the work carried out within the farm.
  11.  Useful to  calculate approximately the cost of production.

Types of farm livestock record keeping and their uses

  1. Animal identification records: such as identification number, tag numbers, date of birth, sex, calving date, date of purchase, date of death, etc.
  2. Calving report: such as calf number, sex and date of birth and any other remarks (father and mother etc.)
  3. Milk yield records: Records daily milk yield of each cow.
  4. Growth records: Record the weight of animals at different periods.
  5. Feeding records: Records the type and amount of feed available and given to animals with associated costs.
  6. Health and treatment records: Record of diseased animals and their history, signs, identified disease, treatment and veterinarian information.
  7. Breeding records: Records breeding practices on the farm including: failure and successful breeds.
  8. Animal History records: Records all information related to individual animals on the farm. 
  9. Financial records: Records financial aspects of the farm (sales, expenses,  information about the price of milk, feed, vaccines etc.)

Read Also: Trends in Crop Production Nationally and Globally


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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