(c) Gryph- if you repost this article, please post with a link back to my website.
I have free downloadable forms on the Printables page including individual ID cage cards (also called hutch cards), litter cage cards, a rabbit information form, a blank pedigree form, a gestation chart, two versions of breeding logs, litter assessment and individual assessment forms, and even an Excel document which you can use in lieu of a rabbit software.
If you aren’t breeding your rabbits than the records you should keep are pretty simple: tracking expenses, health history for your rabbit, pedigree if you have one, and so on. Even with just backyard meat breeding, it’s important to keep accurate records to measure your production. If you breed for meat you will probably want to keep detailed records on litter size, weaning weights, and feed-to-gain ratios. If you’re trying to improve a certain trait in your show herd such as eliminate low shoulders, you should evaluate your juniors at a standard age and note how they measure up in that area. If you’re struggling with a health issue, you’ll want to know how different rabbits respond to treatment in an effort to select a resistant herd. You might want to keep track of how well you do at shows.
Keeping accurate records is vital to your breeding program no matter why you are breeding. The only way to know how well you're doing is to keep good records. Tracking the results will help you to know which does are the best producers, which kindle the largest kits, etc. This will allow you to eliminate the poor producers, keep the offspring from best producers as replacement stock, and fine tune your herd. Keep track of your litter sizes and how often your does are bred. Keep records on conception rate, litter size, number of kits weaned, and rate of gain. Compare this data to your management practices to see what seems to work well, and which of your rabbits produce the best.
Breeding records are especially important. Whenever you breed a doe you should immediately record the date bred and the due date (use the gestation chart to calculate that easily), and also which buck you bred her to. When she kindles write down the date, how many kits she has, how many were born alive or dead, how many survived to weaning, the date you weaned, and the weights at weaning.
You should also be tracking financial data. Most hobby rabbitries never make a profit, but it’s still a responsible practice to keep track of how much you spend on stock, feed, equipment, show entry fees, etc. You should also keep track of how much income you produce from your rabbits.
Another good idea is to keep a rabbitry journal. Once a week, jot down what happened in the barn in the last seven days. Jot down details about any litters born and how they did, or how a doe and buck behaved when you bred them. Did you try a new feed or supplement? Did you enter a show, and if so how did you do? Did you notice a health concern? Did you have to do a cage repair or replace worn out equipment? Little things that don’t really seem important at the time can later help you identify the cause of a major health issue or problems getting does bred.
When it comes down to it, though, the things you should be keeping track of at the LEAST are:
Income and Expenses
Once a month I like to go through my rabbitry and take current weights, trim nails, do a health check, etc. It’s a good way to stay on top of your record keeping, and it’s a good way to closely monitor your herd’s overall health.
There are numerous software options available, and if you ask breeders which one they prefer, you might get as many answers as there are breeders. Here are a few of the ones I've used and liked:
Kintraks (www.KinTraks.com) is free up to 100 animals (be warned that if you start entering pedigrees, 100 animals will go by quickly), and $25.00 for lifetime after that for unlimited animals. It’s somewhat limited in use but is sufficient for most backyard breeders. Kintraks is one of the only options available for those who use Mac computers.
Global Pedigree (www.GlobalPedigree.com) is an online collaboration program. It’s under $13.00 for a year, and many of your rabbit ancestors may already be entered into the program because it’s a collaboration project among its subscribers. Global Pedigree has a feature I really like where it will email you reminders about due dates and other deadlines. Global requires Internet access as it is an online program.
Evans Rabbit Register (Evsoft.us/orderfrm.shtml) is a litter fancier as it offers genetics guidelines as well as chore trackers to remind you about breedings and so on. The deluxe edition runs around $90.00.
All three of these options will allow you to track, create and print pedigrees, record breedings and litters, and keep track of expenses. Please note that these are not the only rabbit software programs; they are just the ones that I have the most experience with. Keeping a record of ancestry on your animals is important even if you are not raising purebreds or raising them to show. If nothing else, you need to track line breeding and inbreeding.