Calendar can help you track your flock

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NEOSHO, Mo. — There’s an easier, and smarter, way than a tiny spiral notebook to keep good records on your goat herd or sheep flock. Think calendar.

“One way to minimize the odds of forgetting an important management event is to set up a production calendar,” said Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension.

There, in black and white

“A calendar decreases the chances for error and decreases the amount of time you spend thinking about what management practices need to be conducted.”

A calendar also allows for successful parasite and disease control on a consistent and regular basis, especially when it is combined with a comprehensive record system.

“Dates on a production calendar are suggestions that still must conform to your management scheme. Some tasks should be conducted promptly and routinely while other management practices may have greater flexibility,” said Pennington.

Great reference

By recording each practice as it is conducted, Pennington says a producer can go back in following years and relate the timeliness to the success of the practice.

Standardized production calendars are available for sheep and goats from associations and extension web sites. However, Pennington warns, some management practices may vary from year to year.

For example, the number of times a herd is dewormed each year depends in part on rainfall, intensity of grazing, and stocking rate.

“Periodically, look at the previous month and the next month to see if a management practice should be conducted in the present month. Looking back or ahead is especially critical this time of the year when the weather can change suddenly,” said Pennington.

In every month, availability and quality of forages and other feedstuffs need to be evaluated. The feeding program and body condition scores for animals also need to be reviewed.

Eyeball time

Spending a few minutes every day watching your animals is also time well spent. Pennington says a producer can learn the normal behavior and attitude of their goats by watching and then recognize when something may be wrong.

“It is easy to get busy and forget to review certain management practices. A production calendar is a check list that reminds you to periodically review your management,” said Pennington.

A production calendar is especially helpful for keeping track of annual events, like remembering when the buck or ram was turned in with the females.

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