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Record Keeping for Cattle

Record Keeping for Cattle

When I mention record keeping for cattle, I just don’t get much of a discussion.

The talk goes much like this:

“Well, I’ve purchased Cattle Max but never really used it. Or, I’ve downloaded a spreadsheet from this site but ended up throwing it away. Then, occasionally I’ll get the person who points to their head and says, “I’ve got it all up here lol.”

Well, whatever you use,

just make sure your system works!

   My advice is this:

Measure what counts.

Select for what matters.

Keep it simple and stay focused.


With those thoughts in mind, do your records….

  • help select heifers with higher fertility?
  • recognize who is really your best milker in the herd?
  • select replacement females from the cows that have longevity?
  • distinguish which sires produces the heaviest calves?
Record keeping doesn’t have to be an expensive or long day in the office.

A simple system is many times a more effective system

than an elaborate, expensive one that’s never completed.

Calving Season is the best starting point for record keepingStart by making sure that every cow is identified with a tag.

Cattle tags for every bull, every cow, every calf.

Cattle tags for every bull, every cow, every calf.

Have a Herd Inventory list. When calving season rolls around, no one slips by without having a calf.

Not only knowing which cows have calved but knowing exactly what day that cow calved gives you valuable information for the upcoming breeding season. That’s also a head start on next year’s calving season.

Once you have birthing records, the rest of the year becomes easier. Weaning records are simply weight and hip height.

I have found that if cattlemen don’t have a strong format for birth records, it’s even more rare for them to have any breeding records or health record for different groups.

Cattle Tags are the key to your cattle records.

Cattle Tags are the key to your cattle records.

Stick with me here. Don’t click off the screen just yet.

Record keeping shouldn’t be the headache that you dread.

Search for a system that you can maintain and afford. Be sure it gives you the information quickly and easily and you can find the answers to your questions, even if you’re in the pasture.

(If you have searched and haven’t found anything that works for you,….then hang on.)

Cattle Records help you make decisions quickly and saves you money. Efficiency is still the key in cattle production.

Start your cattle records before going to the pasture.

Start your cattle records before going to the pasture.

Here’s an overview of my cattle records:

  • Birth Records containing the following:

                          tattoo/tag, birth date, birth weight/sex of calf/eye pigment on the calf

                         Dam, Udder Suspension/Teat Size,

                         Sire of calf

  • Weaning Records contain weaning weight, hip height, & date of work
  • Breeding Records – date of heat observed, AI Service/Natural service, Sire
  • Health Records – date of work, products used for deworming, fly control, vaccinations, & breeding
  • Prep Page for Working Cattle – contains products used on group, work performed

Lifetime Production Cards

Cow – a chart showing each calf that the Dam has produced in her lifetime

Bull – a chart showing a Bull’s service and breeding soundness exams performed

  • Cull Chart – list of reasons for culling, a watch list, anticipated date to cull
  • Herd Inventory Lisincludes every cow, replacement heifer, and bull

I find that having instant access to my records helps me to make more accurate decisions rather than making a gut decision without facts.

Without records,  I would be working blindfolded!

If you haven’t found a record system that you can afford or live with then,

let me introduce the

“Cattleman’s Record”

(Available by Fall Calving Season) 

created by me.

It will be a record keeping system that you can re-print over and over, so there’s no yearly membership fee or maintenance charge. In addition, an Excel format will be available for your computer so that you can print out your records while also storing a backup. Edit any part of the records as needed.

The Cattleman’s Record will be very similar to what I have been using for years to manage our herd. It will contain:

Birth & Weaning Records

Breeding & Health Records

Prep Page for Working Cattle

Herd Inventory list

Cull Chart

Perhaps the most useful part is a Production card for each cow and bull. It’s not digital but a 5 x 7 card that you update once a year after weaning. It is a hard copy of your cow’s lifetime performance and shows each calf that she has produced. For the bull, the Production Card shows each BSE test and each group the bull has been exposed to.

I never thought I would be marketing my own cattle record format but there seems to be an interest for them. I guess that I just assumed everyone used something but the more I ask questions, the more I learn.

So here’s the encouragement! Don’t let your cattle records be empty lines in a little black book on the dusty dash of your truck. No matter what system you choose,

just make sure your records are useful and productive. 


What record systems have you found to work on your farm? I’d love to hear what you are currently using. What’s most useful? What do you like the best or least about that system?

Email me at [email protected]

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