Record keeping is a necessary element of good livestock business management. 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.
Advantages of record keeping at farm
- Records provides basis for evaluation of animals from past records hence helps in selection and culling animals
- Helps in preparing pedigree and history record of animals.
- Helps in assessing the past records and designing better breeding plans to check inbreeding, selecting superior parents and helps in better replacement and culling practices.
- Helps in progeny testing of bulls.
- Helps in analysing feeding cost and benefits from animal product outputs. Hence helps to formulate economic feeding strategies for optimal productions.
- Helps in detection of abnormal conditions or disease status of the herd that leads to loss in body weight, loss in milk production etc.
- Helps in finding the commonly occurring diseases in the herd and thus to formulate in time precautionary measures like vaccination, deworming etc.
- Helps in fixing proper prices of animal meant for purchase and sale.
- Helps in overall better supervision and management of herd.
- Helps in ascertaining the income and expenditure (economics) of dairy farm.
- Helps in estimating the cost of milk production.
- Helpful in comparing the efficiency of labour and herd with other farms.
- To compare the herd performances in different years to determine the amount of profit/loss each year and setting future goals/directions for the farm.
Types of records to be maintained at a dairy farm
- Livestock register : This register records the number of the animals at the farm along with their identification number, date of birth, sire number, dam number, calf and its sex, date of calving, date of purchase, date of sale/auction/death.
- Calving register : This register maintains the records of calving that take place in the farm. It maintains dam and sire number of the calf, calf number, sex and its date of birth and any other remarks like type of calving (normal/abnormal).
- Daily milk yield register : This register records the daily milk yield performance of the cows.
- Calf register : maintains the records of calf at the farm, calf number, sex of the calf, sire number, dam number, birth weight etc.
- Growth record of young stock : this record maintains the weight of the young stocks at different intervals.
- Daily feeding register : This register records the amount concentrate, dry fodder, green fodder and other feeds given to the animals daily.
- Herd health register : This register maintains the record of the diseased animals along with history, symptoms, diagnosed disease, treatment given and name of the veterinarian who treated.
- Cattle breeding register : This register maintains the details of breeding practices in the farm such as cow number, date of calving, date of heat and services along with the bull number, date of successful service, pregnancy diagnosis records, expected date of calving, actual date of calving, calf number etc.
- Animal History sheet : This maintains animal number, breed, date of birth, sire and dam number, lactation yield records, date of drying, date of disposal/death, cause of disposal etc.
Source : Rajalaxmi Behera*, Ajoy Mandal*, Adhikari Sahu**, Saroj Rai*, Shilpa Chaudhary*** and Nirmala Muwel***
* ICAR - National Dairy Research Institute, ERS, Kalyani, West Bengal
** ICAR- Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
*** ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh