By Jessica Dessert, Topolino Farms
I know. Record Keeping is probably the most boring part of farming. You would rather clean out the barn than sit at a computer or table making notes. However, it’s one of the most important things we can do for our farm. So stick with me while I explain how record-keeping has saved lives and saved money! Yes, it’s saved money.
So how does it save lives? This is as simple as I keep track, therefore I know what’s going on. CDT, rabies, all the shots. Yep, they’re up to date. That doe was off her feed at the same time every month – she’s probably in heat, so now I know when she’ll kid. Everything you can record gives you one more thing to reference in case of emergency or for general care.
I went through my favorite doe kid having rabies. I am the ONLY person on record in the state of New Hampshire to have a goat with state lab-confirmed rabies. The case was sent to every vet in NH and my records went with it. My records, which include video of the rabid skunk and the rabid goat kid, have given the state of NH extremely valuable information on rabies. THAT is how important record-keeping can be. (Goat kid was “4MFVT Morning Dove” in Newport NH. Seen at Riverbend Vet Clinic in Plainfield. Records and video links are available through our blog and website.)
Being so detailed in my record-keeping has also saved me money at the vet and earned their respect. They know that when I call and list symptoms, it is ALL the symptoms. They don’t need to repeat unnecessary procedures to get the timeline or the background for this situation. This saves them time which saves me money. I’ve also, more than once, received pretty decent discounts as a personal thank you from vets and vet techs. This isn’t my intention, but it is so nice!
Now you’re thinking, okay but how? Honestly, setting yourself up is the hardest part and where you can make or break your records. Good old pen and paperwork for lots of people. I want to be able to search quickly with CTRL-F or a search bar within a program. There are lots of programs out there. With no affiliation, payment, or reimbursement of any kind… Kintraks is hands down the BEST record-keeping program available. Its only downfall is the lack of mobile compatibility. I’ve gotten around it easily with quickly-made Sheets to jot things down, then transfer to the PC. Kintraks is free for up to 200 records (then is a one-time fee of around $25usd) and has tons of amazing features. The most basic and most important is the Health+ and Journal section. You fill everything out so there’s no worry that the program doesn’t know what Ivermectin is. Just type it in on the first animal and it will show up in a drop-down menu forever! Kintraks works for any species of animal and you can create multiple databases if you’d like to.
Take your time setting up your record-keeping. The biggest challenge is staying organized and sticking to your system. The other challenging part of record keeping is an attention to detail that actually extends beyond the paper/pixel record. You need stuff to record, right? So make it a habit of checking simple things like Famacha, fecals, weight, tooth health, and record hoof trimmings and vaccinations. Recording all of these things means there’s no guesswork when something goes wrong! You know exactly when and what and can narrow down the problem much more quickly.
I hope this helps get you started keeping better records for your herd!