If you need proof, take one example referring to reproductive data. The report shows that 73% of the difference in pregnancy risk in top herds from those in bottom rated herds, can be attributed to management practices and environment.  Put that in simple terms, and that means that dairy teams, or the people behind the cows, make an enormous difference in the success of every dairy operation.  It is a pleasure in National Dairy Month to applaud the men and women that excel in putting their dairy farm at the forefront.  The following 80 plus checkpoints are a part of what makes a dream cream team!

Established Overall goal

  • Establish a management system in which protocols are developed,
  • staff are trained to follow the protocols,
  • records are kept
  • data is evaluated

Sustainable and Repeatable Success

  • animals have long herd life
  • animals produce to their genetic potential
  • animal welfare is excellent

Clear Job Descriptions

  • Adherence to state/ provincial and federal labor regulations
  • Job descriptions are a tool that is used on the dairy.
  • Everyone is clear about who is responsible for each task.
  • Job descriptions for each of the following:
    • Full time manager or managers
    • Advisory teams
      • Veterinarians, nutritionists, consultants

Capable Manager

  • Recognizes that culture and morale come from the top
  • Is committed to helping staff be successful in their jobs.
  • Doesn’t assume that others understand what is wanted
  • Shares goals and expectations
  • Builds effective employee teams by grouping personnel with complementary skills
  • Has strong leadership and communication skills
  • Facilitates team interactions
  • Assists individuals when problems or conflicts occur
  • Applies rules consistently and without discrimination
  • Allows workers to ask questions for further clarification
  • Finds the right task for the right worker.
  • Answers “Yes!” to this question: “Would you want to work for yourself?”

Regular Tasks Not Overlooked

  • Consistent professional management
  • Conflicts are resolved (without destroying … )
  • Animal welfare follows a written Responsible Animal Care Policy
  • Set a good example of proper animal care

Employ Exceptional People

  • “Noticers” – These are valuable people on the dairy team because they take notice of what is unusual about what is happening and question and seek better ways to do things.
  • Family labor used recognized and appreciated.
  • Some dairy operations have an assigned person who serves as a trainer and is readily available, not allocated to any specific mandatory daily role on the farm.  This multi-skilled individual has the flexibility that allows for plugging the gaps caused by absentees to help maintain productivity levels or assist teams with special or understaffed projects.

Special Tasks Completed

  • Written mission statement and goals
  • Meetings are well-organized
  • Meeting are short and efficient
  • Set some clear rules of behavior
  • Establish a driving cause, issue or need.

Formation of Functional Teams

A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performing goals and approaches, for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. May include some of these, perhaps in combination, as well as others as suited to the particular dairy operation:

  • Milking
  • Pre-partum
  • Calving
  • Fresh Cows
  • Hospital
  • Feeding
  • Hoof Trimming
  • Cow Pusher
  • Stall Cleaner
  • Reproduction
  • Recor

Possess Effective Teamwork Characteristics

  • Good behavior and courtesy
  • Committed to a team effort
  • Proud of team achievements
  • Happy to come to work each day
  • Challenge each other with fresh facts and information
  • Shared sense of closeness and group purpose
  • Focus on practical applications of tasks to achieve goals
  • Team takes precedence over individual needs
  • Team experiences success
  • Successes are recognized and celebrated: positive feedback, recognition and reward.
  • Team accepts responsibility for its own performance

Supportive Environment

  • Provide clean safe and comfortable environment
  • Set up your parlor for milker safety and comfort, and you will have more productive and healthier employees.

Dream Team Tools

  • Technology: to provide data to aid in decision making
  • Training: Skills are developed through a combination of education and experience. Invest in employee development to reach top performance and for the benefit of the farm.  Take the time to explain what is expected and why it is important
    • Seminars
    • Videos
  • SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures): can be the difference between success or failure and provide significant performance improvements when properly and thoroughly carried out. SOPs provide focus for team efforts SOPs are the result of collaboration of managers, workers and advisers in writing down practices so activities are consistent
    • Simple steps
    • Flow carts

Regular Performance Evaluation

Measurement is an essential tool in growing an effective team.

  • The team functions effectively when the manager is away.
  • Regular assessment supports that cows produce well and reach their genetic potential.
  • Calf (and herd) welfare stands up to public scrutiny.
  • Turnover is used as a measurement tool as well by providing an opportunity to increase or change responsibilities of the remaining team members.
  • Incentives are provided that support the unique goals and objectives of the team and individuals:
    • Higher pay, greater job security, co-worker esteem, appreciation, a kind-word, performance appraisals.
  • Responding well to problems is important but not nearly as valuable to the dairy operation as preventing them in the first place.

Statistical Benefits of Having Engaged Employees:

  • Employee retention up 44 percent
  • Labor safety up 50 percent
  • Productivity up 50 percent
  • Profitability up 33 percent
  • Overall performance up 78 percent.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Achieving good management practice on dairy farms requires a skilled and motivated workforce. If you focus on the positive and seek steady improvement in the areas discussed, the cream team will more than likely rise to the top and take your dairy operation with it!!



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