The importance of maintaining farm records

Ross Kuchel, Agriculture Advisor.

Whether you’re a full commercial farming business or a small-scale land-owner running a few cows, it is critical that you maintain clear concise records of your on-ground activities.

Records are needed not only for legal purposes but will be required for finance and taxation, analysing the business, monitoring day-to-day activities, and for future planning.

For example, an everyday situation is when you sell your livestock and need to complete a National Vendor Declaration (NVD). An NVD is a legal document which by signing, you are entering into a quality assurance program; the ‘Livestock Production Assurance’ scheme (LPA).

Every year, Integrity Systems (the body that oversees LPA) randomly selects 2,000 producers and targets 1,000 producers (due to system identified non-conformance) to be audited as part of the Quality Assurance scheme, so we can continue to access the worlds premium markets for our red meat commodities such as beef, lamb and goat meat.

As part of the audit process you, the producer, must provide evidence of what you have signed off on. The auditor will check how records are maintained and how food safety, biosecurity and animal welfare management is being carried out. You must be able to provide evidence on the description, number and ownership of stock, the use of chemicals both on the stock directly (i.e. drenches, vaccines, hormones, antibiotics) and via the food it eats (i.e. pasture/crop sprays, purchased feed chem residues, by-product feeds) and on the welfare of the stock you manage.

Maintaining records doesn’t need to be an onerous task. Keep your record system simple and concise. This applies to both the physical and financial aspects of your farm/livestock operations. Ideally, records should be transferred to a summary sheet for easy interpretation and should be linked to your financial recording system.

Critical components to Record include:

  • WHO? Who applied the treatment – you, contractor, employee
  • WHEN? Date of treatment – e.g. when were the cows drenched or a paddock sprayed?
  • WHAT? What was treated – stock description (age, number, ID, location etc) or paddock name and size etc
  • WHAT? What was the treatment – product brand name, batch number and expiry date
  • WHERE? Source of product – where/when was it purchased. For bulk feeds (i.e. grain, hay etc) ensure you get a VCD (vendor commodity declaration) to guard against potential chemical residue risk
  • HOW? Rate and method of application – dose rate (ml/head or L/ha etc), by backline, injection etc.

It doesn’t matter where or how you store your records, as long as they are accessible and can be retained. Diary or dated notebook entries are an ideal first point of entry as they can be kept close at hand (in a pocket or kept in the ute) and information entered as the job occurs.

There are a several mobile phone apps now that will enable ‘live time’ recording of operational procedures, which also include or link in to farm financial, mapping and planning platforms. But ultimately use whatever system you find works for you.

For further information on what records you need to retain if managing and selling produce (livestock, grain, fodder) off your farm, contact Ross Kuchel, Agricultural Advisor, Local Land Services on 0428 314 588, (02) 4842 3800 or

A recorded webinar and other resources for producers are available from the Integrity Systems website.

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