Finally, once you have a complete set of records, you can analyze them to calculate UCOP ($/lb of weaned calf) profit (revenue – costs), and return on assets (profit or loss/$invested). This list of records will also allow you to assess weaning weights/cow exposed, calving rates, calving distribution, cow longevity/replacement rates, reproductive rates by age, as well as identify problem cows and evaluate marketing plans.

Most importantly regarding record keeping Patterson says, "It doesn't have to be hard." He points out that the IRM redbook is a start. Tools for then analyzing data can include Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) software available through University IRM programs or other spreadsheet software programs that calculate production and financial data and you are comfortable with.

Patterson admits record keeping can be a challenge because everyone approaches it differently. But he says finding a system that works will ultimately help your ranch run more efficiently.

Patterson says producers should use three guidelines in designing their record keeping system: 1) make time for record-keeping; 2) determine the herd information that will be most economical and feasible to collect; and 3) determine how you will use that information.

Patterson says, "A ranch is made up of several different components – natural resources, production levels, family, etc. And interestingly stress and conflict are usually the factors that drive decision making. But with planning and management, producers can shape the way management decisions are made to be more effective. Having records can help producers make short and long-term decisions."


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