Organizing Your Records


   Successful beef cow-calf ventures require records of performance. The best records start with unique, but simple identification methods that stay with the animal it’s entire life. When I started my Extension career in Saline county, many purebred herds used neck chains with metal or heavy plastic ID numbers placed on the chain. A few progressive cattlemen were just starting to try an ear tag made by Ritchey.     So, here’s a trip down memory lane.
   I was intrigued by the tag and carried one in my pocket for a number of years. I showed it to a lot of cattle producers as the up and coming way to ID your cattle. I carried it even after moving to Mt. Vernon in 1968. I’m including a picture of that very tag, now in two pieces I have no idea why I put 14 on the tag. Also, you might ask veteran cattlemen if they still have a Ritchey tag applicator. I couldn’t find mine but they were dangerous. The veteran might even show you some hand scars.
   I’m impressed today when at a sale of feeder calves or breeding stock or just driving down a southwest Missouri road looking at cattle, how many of them have ear tags. In fact a year or so back I asked a local livestock supply representative what their biggest selling item was and they replied, “ear tags”. They come in all colors, sizes, with buttons, one piece EID types, pre-numbers or do it yourself numbers with lots of options.
   My question is, do you get your money’s worth out of your tagging system? Some buyers may look at your calves with a nice tag in their ear or ears and assume if you put tag in them you probably did some other worthwhile practices. Maybe it was castration, parasite control, preconditioning vaccinations. If that’s true, you’re getting some returns. Are you individually weighing each and every calf at weaning and transferring that data to their dam’s individual record. If so, there is more benefit from tags.
   Dr. Craig Payne, Extension veterinarian recently sent an introduction to production records for commercial cow-calf operations. There are useful computer records programs some of you already use. The secret is to gather the basic data, put it in a place you can get hold of it then actually use it. It all starts with unique cow and calf ID, probably a flexible ear tag. ∆
   ELDON COLE: Extension Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri
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