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|1109 PD: Winning the fresh cow game|
|Dairy basics - Management|
|Written by Tom Fuhrmann DVM|
Trimming fresh cow losses and reducing treatment costs are crucial steps to winning the game of tight margins in which we are all now engaged. If I can help you with some simple ideas to involve your team and to implement a strategy, you may be able to minimize expenses and control involuntary fresh cow cull losses.
Your group of fresh cow workers is a team because they are or do these four things: they have a coach; each team has competent players; they play according to the rules; and they play for one purpose – to win.
I see herd owners and managers who expect maternity technicians, herdsmen and feeders to know what and how to do everything on their own. That simply doesn’t work.
The coach must assemble the team, define the players’ roles and force compliance. Without that coaching, good workers fail to calve cows properly, treat sick fresh cows correctly, feed transition cows accurately and fail to focus on doing the right thing. Owners and managers must exert management energy, which is the coaching effort to lead workers and manage work.
Birth canal tissue can be stretched, torn and then become more susceptible to infection when maternity technicians don’t assist calvings with appropriate hygienic procedures and manipulations. Sick fresh cows won’t be identified early and treated aggressively if herdsmen don’t evaluate each individual fresh animal daily and examine the sick cow candidates correctly. Conversely, drugs are wasted and treatment costs escalate when inappropriate overtreatment is used in place of good judgment by trained and focused workers. Transition cows will suffer from indigestion, DAs and ketosis if feeders don’t monitor and react to variations in feed consumption daily.
Competency results from training workers who want to learn. The coach determines player attitude and either cultivates that attitude or replaces workers who demonstrate lack of it. Then training is the “hear, see and do” coaching effort that converts the individual into a role player on a focused team.
Rules of the game – SOPs and protocols
Maternity personnel should be taught the signs of labor and given criteria about when and how to intervene when dystocias occur. They need protocols to define exactly how to process post-calving fresh cows and how and when to feed colostrum. Similarly, herdsmen need to be taught specific criteria to evaluate fresh cows from the front and from behind to identify potential sick animals. They need SOPs to examine and diagnose these candidates and protocols to treat them. SOPs and protocols are the playbook from which coaches coach and players learn.
To win – Know and achieve goals
Set your goals, collect the information daily, compute results monthly and share the results and goals with your team of workers every month.
Winning isn’t everything – it is the only thing in today’s tough economic times. While the sports team analogy might seem simplistic, I think it correctly identifies the basic steps to fresh cow involuntary cull control. And the management energy to be a good coach isn’t expensive, it’s priceless. PD
Tom Fuhrmann DVM,