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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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Chances are when you were growing up, your parents were a lot like mine ... strict and frugal.

The first time my dad took my brother and I fishing on Lake Michigan, we were about 10 or 11 years old. A friend of my dad invited us on his boat that he kept in front of the McDonald’s in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

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A young farmer sits nervously on the couch with his partner and tells me that he can’t take working with his dad any more.

He describes the “Boss” walking quickly across the yard, arms waving, with his voice increasing in volume and swearing the “F-bomb” at the young son.

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When it comes to delegating your work, what’s the main reason you hesitate handing it over to somebody else?

If you’re like most people, you’ll probably agree that it’s usually just easier doing the work yourself than having someone else do it for you.

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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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