University of Maryland Extension


   Even if maintaining your small flock is a hobby, recordkeeping helps keep track of your expenses.  It can aid in monitoring the progress of your flock.  Records are important to the financial health of a business or operation. Efficient and profitable poultry operations are not guaranteed by good record keeping, but success is unlikely without them. Records are essential tools for management to maintain a successful flock. Recordkeeping involves keeping, filing, maintaining, and categorizing inventory, financial and production information for your flock. This can be accomplished by hand recording or by using computer software.

Recordkeeping is important. Records tell an owner or manager where the business/operation has been and the direction in which it is going. Records show the strength and weaknesses of the poultry operation. They provide useful insite to financial stability for your flock. If there are any shortcomings, records will show where adjustments can be made. Along with showing where adjustments can be made and being a good reference tool, there are several other purposes of recordkeeping. 

Purposes of Records

  1. Measure profit and access the financial ability of the business/operation.
  2. Provides data for business/operation analysis.
  3. Assists in obtaining loans.
  4. Measure the profitability of individual operation.
  5. Assist in analysis of new investments.
  6. Help prepare income tax returns.

Records assist in avoiding management problems, helping prevent potential problems with your flock.  More so, producers are being encouraged to keep accurate records about the activities on their farms due to increasing environmental concerns. Farm records consist of three distinct categories: inventory, financial, and production records. All records are used to compile useful information that is used in record analysis for an individual operation or the entire business. Records are only useful when maintained and categorized correctly.

What Should I Record?               paper and pencil

The needs and size of your small flock will determine the type of records you as an owner or manager should keep. Financial statements are an intricate part of recordkeeping. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the enterprise, the more detailed records and financial statements should be kept. Regardless of flock size, records should always be kept up-to-date. Other records that should be kept along with financial records include:

  •      Where, when, and types of birds acquired
  •      Poultry Registration Papers
  •      Age and number of birds in each flock
  •      Vaccination dates
  •      Vaccine expiration dates

See pages 170-174 in Basic Management of Intensive Poultry Production

There are several types of financial statements that can be used to help organize information for your flock. Many records are interrelated and used to create other records. In order to determine how an enterprise is doing, the balance sheet and income statement are needed. A larger enterprise may need to elaborate by preparing cash flow statements and a statement of owner's equity (Duvick, 2001). The types of financial statements used to maintain records are determined by the flock needs. Detailed record sheets may be necessary for larger flocks whereas, others may need only a basic format.

Methods of Recordkeeping

Traditionally, growers have kept records by hand. In many cases, a hand recording system is still useful for many growers. Yet, the use of computers and computer software has expanded on farms in recent years because of better record accuracy. The farm manager decides on the system that best fits his/her situationGerloff et al. (1995) has listed advantages to both hand records and computer records.

Hand-Recording System               

   - low initial out-of-pocket expense     

   - easy to start                              

   - requires only pencil & paper

Computer Recording System         

   - more accurate & faster

   - tax deductible as an expense 

   - much easier to create analysis

Recordkeeping can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. All farm records should provide accurate and necessary information, fit into the farm organization, and be available in a form that aids in decision-making (Gerloff et al., 1995). Accurate records aid an owner in making good management decisions. Managing an operation requires an individual (usually the manager) to possess skills to allocate scarce resources while conducting business towards the farm. Skills necessary for management include reducing costs of production, having knowledge of the industry, and willingness to adapt to change. Examples of scarce resources are (but not limited to) feed, water, fuel, building materials, and money. Possessing skills of a good manager allow good records to be maintained, which allow you to accomplish a specific purpose - raising and producing health birds!

Duvick, R.D. 2001. Computerized Farm Record Keeping. The Ohio State University. Bulletin 890-01.
Gerloff, D.C., Holland, R.W. 1995. Establishing and Using a Farm Financial Record-Keeping System. The University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension Service. Publication 1540.
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