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Why It’s Important To Keep Farm Records

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Umar Nsubuga

Phoebe Kagambe, the last year’s best farmer and the owner of Kamata Farm in Rwentale-Kamata village, Kigoyera Parish, Kyarusozi sub-county Kyenjojo district, says it’s important to any commercial farmer to keep all the types of records at your farm.

Animal inventory

According to Kagambe, inventory is important because it provides all the numbers needed to calculate benchmark information. Inventory to track includes, the number of cows exposed to bulls, which is important because it is a denominator in many calculations.

Number of cows at calving time, to determine calving rate per cow exposed; and number of calves weaned, to determine weaning rate per cow exposed.

She says other inventory includes the number of cattle sold or dead/and the date; the number of heads purchased and the date; the number of replacement females; and the number of bulls.

kagambe does her calculations on a blackboard. Photos by Umar Nsubuga

Individual animal identification

For example, at Kagambe’s farm each cow at the farm is identified by an ear tag, she says individual ID gives the ability to trace an animal.

“Individual animal ID records should document the calf’s place of origin, date of birth and health, vaccination and treatment records (what treatment is given and when.) The record is used to track production and performance data for making replacement heifer decisions, culling animals that have a history of diseases or other problems, and tracking cow herd longevity”, she explains.

Market weights

Measurement of individual cow weight is done on calves, cows and bulls, she says this allows you to compare break evens with market prices of animals sold, and it also serves to keep track of the cow’s growth rate.

Pregnancy data

She also says that the record of pregnancy checking is important to be kept at your farm.

Calving data

A record of calves, a calving/dystocia score for making future culling decisions, and the birth date, birth weight, and deaths are important to be kept. She says this allows for documentation of the age and birth origin of the animals in the herd.

Pasture usage

Documenting when a pasture is used each year, precipitation levels and the stocking rate at the farm are important.

Having this information helps a commercial farmer to plan when and how to use pastures the following year and avoid negative –drought management.

“Impacting range condition by using pastures at the same time every year. It also gives a record of historical stocking rates”, she advises. 

Enterprise costs

For dairy farmers, it’s important to understand the costs that go into the dairy farming business, a breaking cost down by enterprise (for cow/calf, feeders, and crop among others). Costs such as drugs, feed, maintenance, depreciation, interest, labour, must be calculated for each enterprise at the farm.

Enterprise revenues

Income for each enterprise must be tracked.

LEAD PHOTO CAPTION: prof. Edmond Kagambe and the wife Phoebe Kagambe balancing farm books.

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