Never have I ever found a cattleman that kept records the exact same way as someone else!
For us, it’s a process with a strategy. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best way we’ve found to work for us so far.
We start with the group text. Night crew and day crew all text in cow numbers as they calve. Tagging is done by day crew, so when morning light shines there is a list of all calves from overnight that will need a tag. With multiple rangers and crews going at all times this keeps our information in a place everyone can see it all the time. Plus it’s simple to scroll back through if there are questions.
Back at the pole barn office, the calves are recorded in chronological order as they receive their number. This notebook includes dam, sire, date born, sex, color, and notes.
To find the sire information per cow, we keep a binder with cow details. Before a calf’s tag is official we check the cow binder to make sure the cow doesn’t already have a calf recorded when we look up sire. Our pairs continue to run with cows that are waiting to calve which makes confusion something we do see occasionally. For this reason, we move heifer pairs after they are tagged.
The spreadsheet is filled out with calf number, birth date, sex, color and notes which makes entering information back into Excel much faster than using the chronological sheet.
Pasture is our final column. As we haul to grass, we use this sheet to fill where the pair will be bred. This is all entered into the computer where we will add weights later once weaning is complete and we have carcass data.
Download a blank copy of this sheet plus a page for a sire directory and use code CALFSHEET to make it free!
A main staple on the desk in the barn is a multi-year monthly calendar. Each time we work a group, ship a load, or an animal is added to the compost pile it is recorded on the calendar. Sick animal treatments can also be found here.
As calves go in the hot box, come home from the vet, or are penned in the barn we use the white board to keep it straight.
For myself, I use notes in my phone, constantly. It’s filled with calves that steal rather than eat from their mother, cows with ugly bags, mystery babies, etc. In the moment, it feels like I can remember it all, all the way through. In reality, a couple days later the details are already fuzzy. Keeping notes jogs my memory enough to keep it all straight.