• Megan Silveira, assistant editor

Recordkeeping Do’s and Don’ts

What you should and should not be doing when keeping records.


The volume of information a cattleman should be recording can be overwhelming. Then when the various methods of recordkeeping are added into the equation, one can feel like they’re in over their head.

Terrell Miller, owner of CattleMax herd management software, says all cattlemen want the recordkeeping process to be as painless as possible. This list of do’s and don’ts for recordkeeping should help simplify the process for producers across the country.

DO be consistent in recording herd information.

“It’s easier to stay current than it is to get current,” explains Brad Wright, owner of Ranch Hand Analytics. “Being prompt and consistent with data entry will decrease errors.”

Wright suggests mapping out a calendar at the beginning of each year to set dates for important data collection sessions (day to collect weaning weights on calves, for example). Having consistency in records and how they are kept brings an operation closer to success, he adds.

DON’T keep all data on a spreadsheet.

Miller says many producers fall victim to “spreadsheet spaghetti.” While he created the phrase as a joke, he says many breeders can get entangled with the sheer amount of data they attempt to contain on a single Excel® document.

“Not all data can be kept on spreadsheets,” he explains.

DO find the recordkeeping method that best fits your operation.

Wright says there are a lot of methods and programs available for ranchers to use when it comes to recordkeeping. There is no one-size-fits-all for the industry, so trial and error will help each individual producer make a decision.

DON’T keep notes jotted down on old feed tags or in multiple copies of record books.

Miller says livestock producers can be notorious for this type of “recordkeeping.” He warns against it, saying there are many problems with this system, including inaccuracy and untimeliness.

DO use an online database.

“Online databases are crucial to this business,” Wright explains.

This type of recordkeeping is what Miller calls “real-time recording.” Online databases have become more popular with the growth of modern technology, and Miller says they allow for all individuals on an operation to be connected to the same records electronically at just the touch of a button.

Anyone with log-in capabilities can gain access to the same accurate and current information to make the best decisions for the operation.

“I think it’s important for registered breeders to have some type of electronic records,” he says. “Making recordkeeping easier on themselves is imperative for them to succeed and enjoy their business.”