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MANAGEMENT

Manage dairy employees, establish farm protocols, take on milk marketing, and become more confident in your farm financials.

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As a mediator, I’ve seen some pretty dumb agreements about the home yard. When you are deciding to move away or build a second home on the property, make sure you think things through with your lawyer and have some clear conversations with your successor.

Many dairy families have more than one home on the main yard, yet privacy is still an issue that you can design into your plans.

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Since dairies come in all shapes, sizes and profit levels, it is nearly impossible to predict what profitability “looks like” at a glance. Is the most profitable business the one with the highest production? Nicest cows? Best reproductive numbers? Most land base? Healthiest heifers?

What profits “look like” can vary somewhat from dairy farm to dairy farm – but studying a variety of dairy farm businesses over time can help to distinguish patterns for higher profits on dairies.

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Managing labour is a big part of dairy farming today. Many times I have heard farmers say it’s not the cows that are hard, but dealing with the people.

I see labour management similar to parenting: Someone has to make decisions to keep the household – or in this case the farm – on track – and you can bet that all the kids will never be happy at the same time.

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Management is an explicit process. It can be taught, and it can be learned. It takes time, dedication and self-discipline. Management is often the difference between success and failure.

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A family with energetic boys raised cattle on a hobby farm. A well-intentioned neighbour, with decades of experience in cattle production, was critical of the “results” he saw and often shared his wisdom.

One evening, as the neighbour chastised the father, the mother stepped in and said, “You don’t seem to understand. We’re not really raising cattle on this farm. We’re raising boys!”

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In conversing with dairy managers, their usual complaint is their labour force. When these individuals are asked what motivates their employees to do a good job every day, the usual response is: “They will be fired if they don’t perform well.

That is motivation enough.” Their statements may be true, but is employee performance really improved with the threat of termination? Dairy employees already have the desire and capability to become top performers.

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