Record keeping is one of the most important parts of ranching. Without proper records it is hard to determine which lines are producing your best animals/pelts, largest litters, etc.
To make things easy, keep a daily log (which can be any type note book, large calendar or stenographer pad, etc.) in which ALL events of the day are written down. That is – births, deaths, any feed changes (new hay, new batch of feed, etc.) extremes in the weather, extra visitors to the unit, animals being treated with medications and any abnormalities. From this record you can check back from time to time to pinpoint any problem that might have occurred and it will usually aid you in finding a solution. (Example – a period of no babies – check back 3 months and you may find extreme heat then or the air condition broke down or in the winter time extreme cold or the furnace quit working. Solution – too hot or too cold caused a slow down in breeding activity).
Each baby born should have a card made for it after the birth information is noted on the mother’s card (example: 1-6-81 1 M & 2 Fe). The main information needed is the following: the animal’s # (which consists of your ranch brand followed by the year letter (see chart) and the number of its birth (that is, 1st, 10th or 349th, Etc.) Then put the date of birth. Under that you put the parent’s full identity always listing the mother on the top line and the father on the bottom line. You can then take the parent’s records back as far as you like, although, 1 generation further is sufficient for daily use.
We find an easy way to identify male and female babies is to use colored index cards found at most office supply stores (pink and blue; yellow & green, etc.) It is helpful to change card colors each January so that at a glance later in the year you can quickly identify males from females and how many hold over animals from the year before you still have on hand without having to read each card. As we have large numbers of babies born each year we now have a blank form made up that we can take to a place like Kinko’s and have it printed on colored card stock. They also cut it into 3x5 cards for us. In earlier years we had a rubber stamp made that fit the top of a 3x5 card that included the lines and our Ranch Brand.
We also add a colored dot (Black for Black Velvets; red for Beige and White for Whites) at the top right corner of the card. This also allows you to at a glance see where the mutations are without having to actually look into every cage.
By making the babies cards when they are born you lessen the chance of losing the identity of an animal that has to be adopted out, moved for some reason, etc. They also are ready when you wean the babies without having to stop and make a card at the time.
The most important record is your permanent Herd Book. This can be kept up as time permits by taking the information from your daily log book. Each year in January a new page is started with the next year letter.
As your Herd Book grows it is a ready cross reference back thru your bloodlines as far back as you want to go. Just look up the mother’s parents and then theirs, etc. and do the same with the father. By filling in all the columns you have a permanent record of all babies born. List all babies born – whether born dead or died shortly after birth for a complete record.
A simple but sometime overlooked thing to do is to list all littering information on each of the breeding females cards. Be sure to note when put into breeding, when jump hole opened, possible breedings and if you change to another male (when and to whom). By doing this you save the time needed to always have to keep running back to the herd book to see when she might have littered last, etc.
You will note that not all letters are used. Years ago animals were actually tattooed in their ears and a C, O, G & Q might look too much alike. Also L & I and V & U.
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