Homestead Record-Keeping Made Easy

Homestead record-keeping is made simpler with these tips.

In this post you'll learn how to keep homestead records, what information you should keep, why you should track these things, and how to make homestead record-keeping easier.

Why homestead record-keeping is important

Without keeping records, how will you know how much hay you bought last year and how much you'll need to have in the barn this year before winter arrives?

Did you feed your chickens more laying pellets in the winter than during the summer, and if so, you'll need to plan for that coming expense.

When were the goats bred? When was the last time the farrier came to trim the horses' hooves? When do you need to update your farm dog's vaccinations? Did you remember to give the barn cats their annual dose of dewormer?

Yes, you need to keep records! 

But if you're like me, it's a lot easier said than done. There are so many things going on, and most of us will admit that our attention spans in these days of instant technology aren't as good as they used to be.

The first step in my record-keeping system

The backbone of my homestead record-keeping system is to write everything down. Since I can't take a pen and paper outdoors with me, I type notes on my phone when I'm outside or simply take a photo. 

I've tried keeping a paper and pen in my back pocket, but it just doesn't work for me. I've lost the pen, dropped the paper in a water trough, and dirty, bent-up papers drive my OCD self crazy. I'll stick to the cell phone method.

Then I copy those notes into my weekly planner when I get back indoors.

My homestead notes are highlighted in yellow in my planner so I can find them easily among the mundane happenings of my life and all those to-do lists.

You can read about record-keeping for GOATS here.
Even though it discusses goat records, you'll find some handy
tips that apply to other species too,
plus my free printables.

I prefer a spiral-bound planner with a "week on two pages" system. Half of the week is on the left page and the other half is on the right page, so that I can see the entire week when the planner is open.

If you need more space to write, try a full-size planner with 8.5" x 11" pages, or a daily planner with a whole page for each day.

I write my homestead and barnyard notes on the day's page, then write reminders and follow-ups on future pages.

For instance, if I give a CDT shot to a goat kid, I write a reminder to give a booster shot in three weeks.

If I had to remember these things without my planner, I'd be in trouble. There's just too much stuff for my brain to hold these days.

I also write things in my planner that I might need to refer to later. Where we bought hay, how much it cost and the farmer's phone number so I can call him again next year. Or not, depending on the quality of the hay!

I know when I gave the horses a new protein tub, and when the goats kidded and how it went - whether she had a difficult kidding or needed to be convinced to let her babies nurse.

Another note reminds me when the dogs need their annual vaccinations.

Livestock notebooks

In the winter when I have more time - there are no weeds in the garden to pull in the winter - I transfer the notes from my planner into my livestock notebooks. You might say that the notebooks are the "final resting place" for information.

But Kathi, can't you just write things down in your livestock notebooks in the first place? Yes, of course you can. I just never seem to have the time to get my notebooks off the bookshelves, and my planner is already open nearby. 

Do what works for you!

Livestock notebook

I have a notebook for my horses, just like the one I have for my goats. The horses' notebook holds their Coggins test results for equine infectious anemia and their registration papers.

I can grab this binder easily to take with me to the vet, on a trail ride or to a show.

Homestead record-keeping made easy with these tips.

I use the same health record form that I use for my goats to keep track of the horses' shots, worming, equine dental work and any injuries or problems.

I don't put farrier visits on this medical form because they would fill up the page very quickly. I just keep track of those appointments in my planner. But again, do what works for you!

You can download my free printable health record form for your own use. You'll find the link farther down this post.

How to keep records on your homestead.

Also in each horse's section I have photos of the horse from each side, front and back. If the horse has an identifying mark such as a brand or a scar, I take a photo of that too. 

I also have a photo of the horse and me together to help establish ownership should it be needed.

This is also where I keep my breed association membership card and the information on our roadside assistance policy.

Homestead record-keeping made easy with these tips.

In the back of the horse notebook are sections for our dogs and cats. This is where I keep receipts for veterinary visits, identification photos, the papers showing that they've been spayed or neutered and proof of rabies shots.

My health record form works well for dogs and cats too!

If you raise chickens or rabbits or other livestock, their medical records can go in the same notebook too, or in a binder of their own if you have a large herd or flock. 

You can also keep receipts, feed ingredient labels, feed costs and more in the binder.

Crunching the Numbers

Now you can add up all those numbers: what you've spent on feed for your different species of livestock, how much you spent on hay, and how long those hay bales lasted.

If x-number of hay bales fed your three horses for four months, you can approximate how many bales you'll need in the future per horse. If you add a horse or sell a horse, you can order hay accordingly.

Make a note of the farm where you purchased that hay, so you can order more next year. Or, if the quality was disappointing, you'll want to remember where not to buy hay!

Add up the cost of goat feed, minerals, hay and any other expenses for your flock or herd. This is how much your livestock species cost you this year. Divide this number by the number of chickens or rabbits or horses you have - this will tell you your expenses per head.

Of course, that's an average cost because kids, dry does, milking does and bucks all require different amounts of feed, but it's a good approximation. Knowing how much you animals cost you is important for your homestead budget and your goals.

You can also figure out how much it cost to raise the pigs that you put in the freezer, or the meat chickens you raised this year.

So, just how do you figure this all out? How do you keep track of those numbers over the entire year? I've discovered a set of worksheets from The Farm Wife that will help you do just that!

Use this Income and Expense Worksheet for Small Farms to keep track of the various aspects of your homestead. 

The preset categories cover poultry and egg sales, small livestock, equipment, garden expenses and so much more, but you also have the capability to add custom categories and delete those you may not want to use so that the worksheet is completely customized for your needs.

You'll be able to track your income and expenses by month and by category, and know exactly which areas of your homestead are making money - or not.

There is also a chart with an overview of how you're doing, showing income and expenses in an easy-to-digest format.

You can find more information on the Income and Expense Worksheet for Small Farms here.

Other homestead projects

You can use this record keeping method to keep track of any projects on your homestead. Write down how much you spent on the materials to make that new chicken coop or how much soil you bought to fill the new raised bed in the garden.

Make note of when you planted your garden seeds. Did you plant too early or too late? How was the yield? Did you try a new fertilizer this summer? What new plants did you add to your herb garden, and where did you buy them?

Keep an inventory

On the first day of each year, I follow Thomas Jefferson's practice of writing down an inventory of my homestead: how many animals we have, how many fruit trees, bales of hay in the barn, etc.

Free printables

If you'd like FREE copies of the printables mentioned in this post, just click the link below. This set of forms was developed for goats but is suitable for other species as well.

Please note that these are free for you to print for your own personal use; please do not sell them or include them in a salable product. 

If you'd like to share them with friends, please send them here to this post so they can download them from the original source. Thank you!

Click here to get your FREE printables.

Who has time to keep records of their livestock and homestead? Try these tips to make it easier.

Why homestead records are important, and what information you need to save. Record keeping is the backbone of your homestead. From Oak Hill Homestead

Related posts:
Keeping Goat Records on your Homestead
Organize Your Family's Documents/Grab and Go Binder

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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