Ageing livestock

Aging livestock – how does it work?

Updated over a week ago

This article explains the reason why all livestock age up, gives examples and lets you know some handy tips to make sure you age livestock correctly.

All livestock are assumed to age up at the end of the financial year. A 1-year-old steer becomes a 2-year-old steer and an ewe hogget becomes a 2 tooth ewe.

Aging livestock at the end of the financial year is an industry-wide concept, used for simplicity and consistency.

Movement in stock numbers, the difference between what you opened with at the start of the year compared to your closing numbers, can also have enormous impacts on your taxable profit.

This means animals need to be aged correctly so they can be re-valued, to give you an accurate view of the position of your business at the end of the financial year.

Farm Focus doesn’t calculate tax for your business, but your accountant will refer to the closing livestock numbers when they’re preparing your end-of-year accounts.

It’s not just about tax though.

You’ll find that most farm financial services such as DairyBase, Beef + Lamb NZ, farm consultants, and even your local discussion group, will use a farm's closing stock numbers and their value to compare against industry standards.

At Farm Focus we’re all about financial planning and following industry standards by automatically aging livestock up to the next stock class at midnight on the last day of your financial year. For example, in physical terms, a ewe lamb born in August 2021 may be considered an ewe hogget around March 2022. In Farm Focus, it will continue to be classed as a lamb until midnight on 30 June 2022, at which point it will age up to a ewe hogget for the next financial year.

How to translate animals in the paddock to your Livestock rec.

When coding transactions or preparing a budget, the rule of thumb is to use the code the animal opened at the beginning of the financial year.

This may well be different to what the animal is referred to as ‘on the farm’, but the 'on-farm' name can easily be entered into the note/comment section of the transaction in Farm Focus. For example, at this time of year scanned empty heifers can cause some confusion – should the sale transaction be coded to R1 or R2 heifers in Farm Focus?

A 20-month heifer, sold as empty in April must be coded as an R1 heifer, as that is what she opened at the start of the financial year even though, physically, you may consider her as an R2. We have changed our farm codes to better reflect this. For example, R2 has been replaced with H2 (2-Year Heifer).

Another common cause for confusion is lambs that are carried over the winter and sold in early spring. Should the sale transaction be coded to a lamb or trade hogget in Farm Focus? A trade hogget sold in September may be described on the farm or at the works as ‘last year’s lamb’. The sale must be coded to trade hoggets, as this is what they were at the start of the financial year. You could use ‘last year’s lamb’ as a comment.

Points to remember when aging livestock:

  • Keep it simple – Don’t get too detailed with stock classes in your livestock rec. Do you need to have a code for cull or empty/dry cows or ewes? This can make your livestock rec. confusing and complicated to balance.

    • TIP: Use the note field to add physical information about the animal to the stock transaction.

  • Stock born on farm – Births should be recorded on the Needs Action page using the Add non-financial livestock event icon (see below). No lambs or calves should be recorded in the opening or closing number of your stock reconciliation, as they aged up at the Balance date.

  • Aged livestock – Animals age up just before midnight on the balance date. By default, all livestock in your farm business will age at the end of your financial year, regardless of when they were born, apart from MA cows, MA ewes and sires. This can be altered in the Stock class within Farm codes (Setting>Codes>Farm codes).

  • This year's closing stock equals next year's opening stock. Current year closing (stock on hand at the end of the financial year, after they have aged up) = next year opening (number of stock on hand at the start of the financial year)

  • Consistent coding – When coding your stock transactions, consider how they are classed in your database as opposed to how they’re physically classed. When coding a stock transaction, the golden rule is to "code an animal to what they were at the start of your financial year".

  • Spring-born progeny - Lambs or calves born in Spring that will age to Hoggets or 1-Year-olds at approximately 9 months of age.

  • Autumn-born progeny - These must also age up at the balance date, even if only weeks or months old. It is often best to create a separate stock class for Autumn born calves, 1 Year Autumn and 2 Year Autumn.

Common Errors

  • Sheep - Sale lambs carried over balance date and killed in spring before they cut their teeth may be graded as lambs by the meat works and the invoice will say 'Lambs'. These must be coded to what they are at balance date: Trade (or Sale) Hoggets.

  • Beef and Dairy - 18-22 month cattle purchased or sold in the Autumn (near the end of the financial year) and may weigh 450kg (heifers) to 600+ kg (bulls) are often described as 2 Years old. These must be coded for what they were almost a year ago at the start of the financial year - 1 Year Cattle.

Note Farm Focus has moved away from using the term Rising 1 Cattle to 1 Year Cattle.

Examples of Stock Reconciliation: Source Rural Field Consultants Ltd

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