“Recordkeeping is essential to your pork operation,” says Brad Thacker, coordinator of the Swine Production Medicine Program at Iowa State University. Here are some of his strategies for effective recordkeeping.

Recordkeeping needs to be an integral part of your production plan. This plan should include:

- A description of the data that you’re collecting.

- Data collection format, including careful attention to form development, mechanics and frequency of data input. Also mechanics and frequency of report generation and distribution.

All employees must be committed to the plan and it should fit the needs and schedules of everyone involved.

Data accuracy is a give-and-take process. Thacker says it’s impossible to have 100 percent accurate data collection. Recognize that you need to check for errors; it’s essential to correct these immediately.

Communication among all employees is important for data accuracy and effective record utilization.

Prompt preparation of reports by the record bureau for you and your employees is an important factor for promoting accurate data collection and effective use of the reports.

You and your employees need to discuss these reports at least once a week. Consultants should have recent reports available prior to their visit so they can use the data to identify potential problems. To encourage recordkeeping by farm personnel, consultants should use the reports as the initial discussion point during farm visits.

To use the records effectively, you need to discuss how you and your employees will be using them.

Day-to-day management reports, such as a list of sows that require special attention, are especially important for reducing nonproductive days. Consultants and managers need to use records to identify problem areas and develop effective strategies to fix the problems. Successful problem solving using records will encourage everyone to accurately collect data.