Data is Key: Management Series Part 5

Do you take data seriously? Or is it something only ‘big farms’ should care about? I’m here today to tell you that no matter your herd size, you need to be keeping records.


Data is Key: Management Series Part 5

Data is key on any farm with livestock. Whether you are a tiny homestead or own hundreds of acres and run a large herd. The goal with any livestock is the continually improve the breed.

You can work toward improving your goats if you only have 2 just as you can when you have 200. Sure it’s slower but you still can and should.

Keeping track of milk production, weight gains, and more can help you decide whether a goat is helping or hindering your herd. On a homestead, animals need to earn their keep. Is your doe producing enough milk for you? Do you know how much she’s producing? In a larger operation, animals need to pay the bills. Do you know who your best does are? Which ones are at the bottom?

Knowing these details can make or break a herd. Having a homestead doe who isn’t producing enough milk for you is wasting time and resources. In a larger operation, it’s vital to know who your does are so you can keep back good replacements. Why feed poor producers? They’re wasting time, money, and resources that could be used to maintain a more productive doe.

data is key | are kikos as wonderful as they claim?

Things to keep track of

So, what should you keep track of beyond basic health and breeding records?

For milk does, you want to keep a record of their production each day. Not only is this good to know as a metric, but it also helps with keeping an eye on health. If you know her normal production, you can spot when it drops due to mastitis, an underlying health problem, or when your doe is in heat. Another fun thing you can do is get her milk tested for fat % and proteins if she’s purebred.

For meat does, or if you’re crossing milk does with a meat breed – the kids’ weights should be recorded. This way you can find out with doe is producing the most meat for you. Why feed a doe who raises lighter kids instead of a doe who raises heavier kids? Standard weigh dates include birth, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and 150 days. Many people just do birth weight, 90 days and 150 days.

The 90-day weights show how your doe performed. The 150-day weights show how your kids grow on their own.


In particular – Kiko breeders: data is KEY!

The Kiko breed was built around production. It’s even more important to keep track of data with them. I highly, highly recommend using the GHIP through CMGA (it’s free). It adjusts for sex, exact wean dates and birth dates; averaging everything out so you can actually compare data between does and kids. I have been using it for 5 years and will continue to use it. This tool I consider vital to a Kiko farm.

Data for Kikos is more than just a 90-day weight. I started with that and worked up to being able to keep kids and get the 150-day weight. The difference will surprise you! Sometimes a kid who had an amazing 90-day weight, fell way behind on the 150-day weights. And a kid with an ok 90DWT excelled at 150 days.

Please consider trying out the GHIP. As far as I can tell, you don’t have to be a member to use it through CMGA. It’s a way to help show support for them without getting a membership.


data is key

Printable Record Sheets/Binders

Oak Hill Homestead – offers free, printable goat record forms. Easy to use and fill out, Oak Hill shows you each page and what they’re used for.

Ridge Top Farm & Garden – has a slightly different set and style of sheets. Again, easy to use and fill out. This style of record-keeping is great for new goat owners!

The Free Range Life – this system is for in a binder and comes with many, many add-ons that the free forms do not have! It is not free – less the $25 though. Go check it out.

Goat Herd Improvement Program via CMGA – this is what I use to collect and analyze data for my Kikos. It’s free through the CMGA. Highly recommend this to anyone looking to improve their Kiko herd with solid, comparable data.


Paid online or computer software

These are in no particular order and I have not tried all of them. Simply found some options for you.

Agri Sights Goat Management System – in their terms: “Successful goat management can be difficult without the proper tools. But becoming an IT specialist shouldn’t be one of the requirements for managing a goat operation. That’s why our goat management system allows you to focus on managing your herd the way you want to while we handle the IT side of things. Interested in productivity reports, genetic evaluations and secure animal history records? Go360 bioTrack has got you covered!

More info on the program is here. Request a free trial here. I couldn’t find pricing on their website, but this review mentions it and its features. Cloud.


Ovitec by Agritec – this program interested me enough that I opted to try their free version. This program appears to be extremely flexible with tons of options. Definitely recommend checking this one out. They do have a free version with limited options. Other versions are pricier. Their website is well laid out and things are easy to find. Ovitec clearly shows pricing and I feel better dealing with a company that is upfront about that. Both offline and cloud options are available.


Folio3 goat management software“Regain the lost control and visibility of your goat farm by incorporating our seamless goat farm maintenance management software. Replace your goat farm’s unreliable and inefficient paper-based processes by automation and observe improved results. Save yourself from the stress of dealing with inefficient workers and inconsistent workflow with this amazing software which allows you to automatically assign the tasks to the workers and get real-time updates on the progress. Our comprehensive goat farm maintenance management software is a smart way to eradicate the inefficiencies found in the maintenance management of farms.”

It appears this one is particularly for farms who have workers on them, and as tools in it to help you see how they work. I can’t find pricing on their website or on a quick Google search. They do offer a free trial. Online, cloud.


Livestocked – I’m sure almost everyone has heard about this one! It’s an app that is purported to be easy to use for many different species. A basic subscription is free.


EasyKeeper – subscription-based program with a free trial. Plenty of standard features on a cloud/online system. They say it’s a simplified record-keeping system.


Evans Goat Register – I currently have this one. It’s great for small herds where it’s easy to add in information. Great for keeping track of pedigrees. Weight and milk production logs are available. I personally find it too time-consuming for a larger herd and am looking at different options. (I LOVE their rabbit register though and highly recommend that!) Free demos are available. Offline, computer software.


What do you keep track of? Comment below, I’d love to know!

Enjoy,

Megan


Data is Key: Management Series Part 5

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