Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Let's Look at that pile of papers...
Calving is done, branding is behind us, and the AI program for the year just wrapped up. On most ranches, this means there is a pile of cow/calf numbers, calving records, and AI data that either is living in the forgotten corner of the desk or is piled high by the computer to one day get imputed into an excel document. Not at our house, in our world that pile of numbers is a waste of effort and time! We work hard to only keep records that impact the decisions of the ranch. Can you say the same? Here’s how to tell.
#1 Do you use them?
This is the easiest and biggest question! If you don’t use them why do you keep them? You don’t have to! Most records have no use other than historical data that you probably will never look at anyway, so stop. You have permission to stop wasting your timekeeping countless records that do nothing You have permission to only record what you use to make decisions with. Which leads to question 2.
#2 Do these records help make decisions on your ranch?
Think about calving. Does birth weight affect your business? No? Then don’t write it down. Is it valuable to know which cow runs you up a fence every time you’re near? Great! Keep that log and then sell that cow. Nobody should have to regularly test how fast they can scale a fence. My record is 4 seconds though if we're comparing notes. Take a look at each data point you write down. Will you use that information within the month? The year? If not then ask yourself why you are writing it down? If the answer is because we always have then this is your chance to change. Stop keeping pointless records that have no use. If it doesn’t affect your business or it’s decision-making process then it’s not valuable.
#3 What’s the trade-off?
If you don’t keep these records what's the trade-off? In any way, shape or form will not keeping these records negatively affect your business? When we made the switch the trade-offs were all positive. We gained an extra person to work the ally or back because we didn’t need someone up front recording every detail as they came down the chute. We gained time after the day was done because no input work was needed. We gained a better understanding of our cows' purposes. We pride ourselves on letting our cows be cows which means they don’t always have a perfect day now we don’t have to see that day on paper and question if they belong. We know our cows, we know their purpose, and we know they are creating value. We're happy with that.
Let's get one thing clear. We're not saying you shouldn't keep any records, because we too believe some records are useful and meaningful to your operation. We just want to make sure the ones you are keeping are in fact useful and meaningful. We believe in creating value in your operation and sometimes that value comes from putting an end to things that take time and cost you money. Record keeping just might be one of those.