I love record keeping. It helps me see progress, set goals, understand successes and failures, and most of all, remember everything I want to remember but can’t keep in my head.
Our homestead has 2 main binders for record keeping: the garden binder and the livestock record book.
The livestock record book has not gotten much use in 2018, with all the livestock except the chickens gone. And I didn’t even use it as much as usual for the chickens. All I did was keep track of what chickens we had and their parentage etc for the breeding program and how many eggs were laid. I didn’t even keep track of the hatches we did or anything. This is very unlike me, but it has been an overwhelming year with our baby’s health issues.
As we head into the new year, now with not only the chickens but also the sheep, I am looking forward to getting my livestock record book back on track. So this week I have been cleaning it out, organizing it, and getting it ready to be put to work.
I wrote about this binder long long ago. I have tweaked it here and there over the years, so let’s take a peek inside and see what I am planning to keep track of this year.
I have large main tabs with each type of livestock on them…chickens, sheep, goats, and dogs/cats. We don’t have goats but the paperwork is still there from our previous goats and if we do decide to get another milk goat this year I want to have the sheets to remember what and how I like to track it.
There are some sheets that are the same for all the different livestock.
Costs: The costs sheet tracks what we spent on that type of livestock throughout the year. It has columns to mark it as a start-up cost, a feed cost, or a maintenance cost. This helps me with future planning and knowing what the money is spent on. You can see on the Chicken sheet about halfway down I have a spot I keep track of how many chickens we have so that I can break down the costs per chicken. I fill in the date and the number of chickens and how long we had that many. Then when we butcher, or sell them, or if we add more, I write on the next line the date and the new amount. Then if I want to know more specific costs I can use that info to help me break it down.
Income: The income sheet keeps track of any income made from that type of livestock such as selling fleece, eggs, or the animals themselves. The chicken sheet is a bit different than the sheep one because selling eggs is a weekly occurrence, whereas income from the sheep is sporadic.
Vet and Vaccination Records: This is a simple sheet where I jot down the details of what has been done and when. Since our chickens rarely get anything, and the sheep flock is so small, I only keep one sheet for each type of livestock, as opposed to a sheet for each individual animal.
Butchering Stats: This is another simple sheet just to keep track of how many animals we butchered and how much meat (in weight) we got from our butchering. I keep one sheet per type of animal.
Those are all the forms that are similar across species. Now let’s look at what specifics we have for each species.
Behind the big chicken tab I have smaller tabs separating out their forms:
Egg Production: This tab has the egg production sheets behind it. I sometimes keep track of eggs by color, but the last few years I just mark down totals.
Cost/Income: Behind this tab are the cost sheet, income sheet, and butchering sheet that I discussed above.
Flock Tracking: This tab is for keeping track of what chickens we own and the sheets we use to score our chickens for breeding selection.
Hatch: Behind this tab I have clutch sheets where I can keep track of information about each hatch, whether under a hen or in the incubator.
Behind the sheep tab I have the cost, income, butchering, and vet/vacc records that I discussed above. There are also sheets where I jot down our hay plans and purchase amounts for each year, these are just notebook paper where I write it out. And I have a sheep gestation table and poisonous plants list for reference.
Then each sheep we own has it’s own small tab, which include the following sheets behind them.
ID page: This tells basics about the sheep (date of birth, breed, etc), what we know of their parentage, and has a photo of them.
Ewe Lambing Record: If the sheep is a ewe it includes this record to track all their lambing.
Ram Breeding Record: If the sheep is a ram it includes this record to track their breeding history.
Sheep Shearing Record: Each sheep has a shearing record to track their fleece production and quality.
Lambing Symptoms/Notes: If the ewe has lambed before for us I jot down notes about what her symptoms are like leading up to lambing so that we can look back at them the next year to guide us as we expect lambing.
Even though we do not have a milk producing animal right now, I thought I would note what sheets I use for them. I have the same cost, income, butchering, vet/vacc, ID, kidding or calving, and male breeding records that I keep for the sheep. Then they also have a milk production sheet to track the amount of milk produced each day.
I keep track of the barn cats and the LGDs vet info, vaccinations, and any pertinent information about where we got them, parentage, etc. These are not really worksheets, just notes and paperwork from the vet etc.
That is a peek into our livestock record book. It feels good to get it back updated and ready for 2019. I am hopeful I can keep better records this year.
How do you go about record keeping for your farm?