What is it to 'keep records'?
To keep records is simply to collect relevant information that can help you to take good decisions and to keep track of activities, production and important events on a farm. Records can be about any performance of the animals, economic development, or any activity of the farmer or veterinarian. It is important to keep record keeping simple, and to keep records systematic. If records should be of use for the farmer, than they must be complete (none missing), they should be true (collected carefully). When record can't be trusted because they are not complete or true, time should not be spent on it at all.
The records can:
- Be used in determining profitability of various techniques used at the farm
- Be used to keep your memory on what you did and/or what happened
- Be used in decision making, especially on a strategic level
- Be used to compare the efficiency of use of inputs, such as land, labour and capital, for example when implementing a new / alternative systems
- Help the farmer / investor in improving the efficiency of farm's operations
The real value is to support the farmer and the advisors to keep track and take decisions. Too often, records are only kept for the purpose of official reporting, e.g. to the Ministry headquarters for the parasitical and not used as a tool on the farm/ranch for making the decision in time.
The records should be simple, easy and quick to interpret, and then they can be supplemented with remarks which can explain some unusual events or findings.
What can records be used for?
If a farmer wants to build a financially successful livestock enterprise, record keeping is a must. The records can be used to further develop the farm and the herd, and thereby the sector in the country. For many farmers, it helps to think of their farm as a business, and to see that good care and good management actually also influences the production and profitability of the farm.
Records are important in (animal) farming because:
- To keep track of all animals (Identification records)
- Evaluation of livestock for selection (breeding records; financial records; production records)
- Control of inbreeding and aid in breeding planning (breeding records)
- Aid in selecting animals with the right characteristics for breeding (production, health, feed efficiency) to improve the herd or flock
- To rationalize labour
- Aids in feed planning and management
- Aids in disease management; keeping track about treatment (disease records)
- Aids in finding the effective treatments
- To assess profitability/losses (financial records)
- Improves bargaining power on products, because you can see the investment and the price of the production (financial records)
- Credit/loan access (financial records)