Production data records are commonly used for internal monitoring and management, budgeting, and benchmarking.
Internal monitoring and management
- Identifying trends and anomalies e.g., comparing the profitability of different fodder crops.
- Use of data to facilitate management decisions e.g., use of historical reproduction data to make decisions around joining practices.
- Monitor the outcomes of management decisions e.g., monitoring the impact of weaning practices on weight gain in weaners.
- Historical production data can be used to validate budget assumptions e.g., budgeted natural increase, or budgeted sale weights.
- Where you are participating in a benchmarking group, production data records will likely be required. The level of detail will vary depending on the type of benchmarking and group.
- Where possible, you should ensure they are clear on the data requirements of any benchmarking or other analysis they are looking to participate in prior to commencing the period they wish to benchmark/analyse to ensure they any relevant data to the level of detail required.
Options for Recording Productivity Data
When recording production data, particularly that relating to animals it there is a number of ways to capture it.
- Gross Data
- When information is captured on the whole herd, for instance total number pregnant vs total number empty
- Often this information can be recorded by using a ‘notebook’ tally or yard sheet and then transfer to a spreadsheet at a later date.
- Individual Animal Data
- When each animal is identified using either a management tag with a number
- Use the NLIS tag and RFID number to identify the animal
- Often both can be used to increase accuracy of the data and prevent losses due to lost tags
- There are a number of herd recording platforms that can be utilised, alternatively data can be entered into an Excel spreadsheet.
Reconciling the herd numbers is the process where a livestock schedule is utilised to ensure that the herd inventory is correct.
The herd rec can be done according to a financial year or a calendar year, it often depends on the environment that the business operates in and when peak calving/ weaning occurs.
The livestock schedule is a place where all numbers recorded are reconciled to ensure that all animals are accounted for. It can be generated using a simple spreadsheet style entry program such as Excel.
- Opening numbers
- The opening numbers are derived from the closing numbers of the previous year
- Any cattle that are bought in the 12-month period, therefore the were not previously included in the schedule
- Natural Increase
- Animals that are born within the 12-month period.
- Animals that are sold off the property
- Animals that have died on the property
- Closing Numbers
- The closing numbers are simply the opening numbers adding purchases and natural increase, subtracting sales and death (represented below).
- The closing numbers are required for the business balance sheet therefore it is very important that they are as accurate as possible, because it is difficult to assess a business with inaccurate information.
When recording individual animal data, the females will generally have more information recorded than the male cattle due to the fact that they reproduce and often stay in the herd for a longer period of time. Suggested data to record is listed below
- Body Condition Score (BCS)
- Ensures that breeders have enough condition to be able to provide for the calf as well as get back in calf the following year.
- Scale of 1-5, with 1 being very poor condition and 5 significantly overweight, it is ideal to have cows in condition 3-4.
- Determines if she produced a calf for the year, she could be pregnant every year but never actually raise the calf.
- Pregnancy Status
- Foetal age
- Age of the calf which can be used to generate estimated calving dates
- Birth Year/Year Number
- Required to determine cows that need to be culled for age given that breeder mortality increases significantly once they are over 10 years.
- Female spay
Information that can be recorded for herd bulls is listed below.
- Body Condition Score (BCS)
- Birth Year/ Year number
- Scrotal Circumference (cm)
- Semen Test
- Semen Motility – a percentage of progressively motile sperm at crush side. >30% is required to be a suitable herd sire.
- Semen Morphology – how the sperm are ‘put together’ identifies if there are any abnormalities with the sperm. >60% is desirable.
- Genetics – see page on genetics
Common uses for reproduction data include but are not limited to:
- Identification and monitoring of trends or anomalies e.g., herd fertility over time
- Facilitation of management decisions e.g., partitioning of the herd into early and late calvers and early detection of disease.
- Monitor the outcomes of management decisions e.g., implications of joining practices on PTIC rate
- Validation of budget assumptions e.g., budgeted natural increase
Depending on your business’ goals and objective, a combination of some, all, or additional information to the following may be relevant for their reproduction records.
- Joining details
- Number joined
- Number of sires
- Length of joining period
- Pregnancy testing records
- Number pregnant vs empty
- Individual animal record
- Foetal aging
- Determines estimated birth date of calves
- Marking/branding numbers
- Weaning numbers
- Weaning weights
As technology develops, the ability to weigh stock more frequently and with less stress on the stock is increasing. This ability varies from operation to operation depending on the technology and infrastructure there is available.
Common uses for weight data include but are not limited to:
- Identification and monitoring of trends or anomalies e.g., weaning weights over time
- Facilitation of management decisions e.g., planning the timing of sales
- Monitor the outcomes of management decisions e.g., impact of weaning practices on weight gain, or the efficacy of different supplements and rations
- Validation of budget assumptions e.g., budgeted average daily gain (ADG), or sale weights
Depending on goals and objective, a combination of some, all, or additional information to the following may be relevant for their weight records.
- Recording weights;
- At weaning
- On arrival (purchased cattle)
- Prior to sale
- At various times when cattle are put through the yards e.g., treatment or drafting
- Details of the type of pasture, crop or ration the cattle have had access to
Common uses for purchase data include but are not limited to:
- Identification of trends or anomalies associated with cattle sourced from particular vendors e.g., disease or performance
- Historical data can be used to identify trends in production, and profitability of particular stock classes or weight ranges
- Use of data to facilitate management decisions, e.g., decisions around where to purchase cattle from, or taking pre-emptive measures where there have been issues in the past
Depending on the goals and objective, a combination of some, all, or additional information to the following may be relevant for their weight records.
- Class of stock e.g. heifers
- Number of head
Common uses of grazing data include but are not limited to:
- Feed budgeting
- Analysis of the performance and profitability of different fodder crops or pasture bases
- Facilitation of management decisions e.g., stocking decisions or fodder crop choice
- Monitor the outcomes of management decisions e.g., impact of rest period length on overall grazing value
- Validation of budget assumptions e.g., realistic stocking rate on different fodder crops or pasture bases
Depending on a producer’s goals and objective, a combination of some, all, or additional information to the following may be relevant for their grazing records.
- Stock movements
- The date of any stock movements on or off paddocks
- Stock details:
- Number of head
- The class of stock e.g. weaners
- Average weight of stock when moved on and off the paddock
- Feed base details
- Crop type
- Pasture type
- Supplementary feed
- Details about the type and volume of any supplementary feed provided