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Herd Record Keeping 101
Keith Smith

This is the first in a series of articles concerning history files for your goats. This first installment will cover some of the paper forms that we have used over the years. The next installment will cover computer based records.

Actual forms described in this installment are available through links located in this article. You may download and use the forms as is or you can alter them to meet your needs. These aren't the only forms we have used - they are offered to give you some ideas of how you might or might not want your records to be. Three formats are provided:

  • HTML (web browser) - these forms will be opened in the current browser window. You can save them using your browser's "File - Save as" function or you can print them directly to your printer. To return to this article simply click on your browser's Back button.
  • Microsoft Word - these forms will be opened in your Word program. You can save them using Word's "File - Save as" function or you can print them directly to your printer. Some browsers load Word into a new window and some into the current window - To return to this page try the Back button first then if that doesn't take you anywhere just close the window that Word is located in.
  • PDF (portable data format) - A pdf reader is required to view and/or print these forms. The free Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® is available for download - Click Here. To return to this article simply close the window that the Adobe web site is located in.

It matters not if you have two goats or two thousand goats... you need to keep records of one type or another. The form that the record keeping takes and the complexity of the information that it contains will be determined by what you expect the records to do for you. The new (2002) scrapie rules require that you keep records of all purchases and sales.

In the beginning...
There was no need for specific records. We started our goat odyssey in 1994 with two grade Nubian does, one of which gave us a kid the morning after we brought her home. As reasonably intelligent adults we figured that we would be able to remember their names; Annabelle, Sadie, and her kid Stormy (there was a thunderstorm that night) and any other information about them. We knew what day the kid was born by looking up what day we wrote the check for his mom and adding one day. We didn't need records of immunizations, parasite treatments, etc., - we didn't know that those procedures needed done, much less written down somewhere. We knew what we were feeding them; grass. We knew how much; however much they wanted.

It wasn't until Sadie took sick about 4 months later that things got complicated. That poor goat was probably less than 75 pounds by the time she got too weak to stand. A quick run to the vet (well, quick after spending all day finding a vet that would even look at a goat) and we received a crash course in the effects of and treatment for internal parasite infection. The immediate treatment recommended was to raise her hemoglobin level by blood transfusion. Since our only other goat was 40 miles away through rush-hour traffic we bought a blood donor goat from a man down the lane from the vet. Named her Florence - as in Florence Nightingale. Sadie recovered and the vet instructed us on the proper administration, dosage, and frequency of parasite treatment. Looking back I can see where that was the point in time when our need for record keeping really started - we went back and bought 7 more goats from the man who sold us Florence.

A spiral bound notebook and a pencil were our first recording media. One column was for the goat's name. One for the date. We had the foresight to see that there would be other things to record besides reports of fecal egg counts and treatments so the third column was labeled "Notes".

If you have one or two goats this as as fancy as the record keeping needs to get. You can record everything you want concerning every goat on this one medium.

  • Origin info (purchase, from who, price or born at your place)
  • Sire and Dam identification
  • Immunizations, date and dosage
  • Parasite tests, date and results
  • Parasite treatment, date and dosage
  • Production (breeding, kids born, etc.)
  • Feed quantity and type
  • Injuries and Illnesses (cause and treatment)
  • Disposition info (death, sold, to whom, price)
There really is no limit to what you can do with this simple form.

Perhaps you noticed that one of the items in the above list is "Production". This implies that there will be more goats. More goats means that it will get harder and harder to find information on any particular animal using your simple form.

This is the point where actual usable forms are shown. There are links to each form - just click on the link to view each form and then use your browser's print function to print them out if you think you can use them. You can also store them on your computer for future printing of more copies or to customize them to fit your needs. Use your browser's "File - Save as" function - just remember where on your computer you saved them and what file name they are saved as.

Individual animal form.

The spiral bound notebook was put aside (but kept on hand for the information it contained) and a new form was designed for use in a loose leaf binder. Each animal had a separate sheet with each category of information recorded in the same location on each form. That way a quick glance through the sheets would reveal trends. We also attached a photo to the back of each animal's form. This first form is circa 1994.
Click Here for the HTML version.
Click Here for the Word version.
Click Here for the PDF version.

Records by information category.


DOSAGE RATE (ml per pound, etc.)
This second form provides an easy way to track treatments by type. A separate version of this form can be used for each of your categories of treatment, etc.
Click Here for the HTML version.
Click Here for the Word version.
Click Here for the PDF version.

Kid Records.

When the number of kids per crop went from 3 to 30 it became obvious that a different form was going to be needed just for the kid's identification and routine treatments. This form is "sideways" so you'll need to set your printer to "landscape mode".
The "Markings" column is where we enter items such as color, blaze shape, and name if we assign one. We usually only name goats that meet breed or show standards. We use the "Notes" column for things such as conformance to breed standards, wethering, date sold, etc.
Click Here for the HTML version.
Click Here for the Word version.
Click Here for the PDF version.

Breeding Records
This isn't actually a form, more of a format. Since we only keep about 30 head of breeding does and one buck we can get away with this method. Larger operations would probably want to expand this format to printed records.
We record breeding activity in two places; a dry marker board in the barn office and a large-block calendar in the house office.
On the dry marker board columns are created as follows:

I.D. Date
Date &
Due Date Notes
On the large-block calendar in the house office we simply write the I.D. and "bred by (buck)" in the appropriate date block. We also write the doe's name, "kidded" and the number & sex of the kids on the large-block calendar. This is more of a backup system to the dry marker board and the kid record sheet than it is an actual record.

Sales Records
The Purchase Agreement is an important record that protects both you and your buyer. The buyer gets a copy of this completed form with every goat that goes out the gate. We file a copy on the computer and a hard copy in the "Inactive Animals" file drawer.
Click Here for the HTML version.
Click Here for the Word version.
Click Here for the PDF version.

Record keeping is important.
Use whatever method or methods are best for your goat operation. At a minimum, you must record the purchase date, from whom, the sold date, and to whom. This information must be retained for 5 years.

You are welcome to use the accompanying forms in your operation. Feel free to modify them however you need to fit your needs.

The next installment will include reviews of several computer based record keeping systems. "Stay tuned". At this time the publisher of one of these software programs is unwilling or unable to provide a fully working version so the reviews will be only of the demo versions. I know... you can demo them yourselves. What you need is a review of "the real thing". Well, fans, it can't be helped. It would be unfair to give a full report on all but one program and then say something like "The review of so-and-so's program is incomplete because it's based on a demo version".


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