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|0508 EL: Grow your herd by growing your team|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Management|
|Written by Tom Wall|
|Sunday, 31 August 2008 17:00|
Like many dairies throughout the country, Blue Royal Dairy LLC is focused on growth.
But not just the growth that initially comes to mind. Although they expanded their herd size from 800 to 1,350 cows in July, they’ve primarily focused on the growth of their dairy’s people.
Blue Royal Dairy LLC, located just a few miles outside of Valders, WI, is owned by Bob & Mary Kay Staudinger along with their partner/son Brian and his wife Jennifer. Bob & Mary Kay’s son Eric recently returned to his family’s business to manage their herd’s nutrition and feeding program. Currently operating on 3 sites only a few miles apart, the Staudinger family runs over 2,100 acres of land.
When I began working with Blue Royal nearly 8 years ago as their team’s bilingual trainer, coach, and employee management consultant, Bob and Brian faced numerous challenges with their dairy’s team. Operating with nearly all Spanish-speaking employees, the most challenging obstacle back then wasn’t just herd health and milk quality. The Staudinger’s biggest challenge was communicating across the cultural and communication barriers that existed within their team.
Since 2000, we’ve held employee training sessions every month to help everyone understand their responsibilities and how their performance affects the animals and the future of the dairy. As a result of this consistent “team maintenance”, Blue Royal averaged a remarkable 112,000 SCC for 2007 through diligent mastitis prevention and management and an impressive 3% heifer calf loss for the same year.
But the real growth has come as a result of the Staudinger’s hands-on management style and commitment to teaching and training their team. Not only has Brian learned Spanish on the job, but he’s learned how to develop a team of highly skilled ‘partners’ at the dairy.
One of these key ‘partners’ in the dairy’s growth has been Assistant Herd Manager Arturo Tapia. Arturo joined the Blue Royal team as Assistant Herd Manager 5 years ago. When he arrived at Blue Royal, Tapia was looking for an opportunity to develop herdsman skills and was eager to learn. As basic as it sounds, Arturo was able to gain Brian’s confidence quickly by simply following protocols. And while he was adhering to these protocols, he was also learning what each shot was for and why the details were extremely important.
When asked how their team has achieved such great results, together they both answered “teaching!” Since hiring Arturo, Brian has invested a lot of time and energy teaching him the skills and knowledge to make proper decisions in the best interest of the cows. And so far his investment has paid off. Now five years later, Arturo feels it is his turn to share what he’s learned with the rest of his Spanish-speaking teammates.
Recently one of the cow movers asked Tapia to help him deliver an upside-down heifer calf. Instead of just reaching in and doing it for him, Arturo checked the position of the calf to verify the awkward presentation. Arturo coached his teammate on how to turn her around and within minutes the calf was straight and upright. Arturo said, “It’s a good feeling to see a co-worker learn new things and be more confident in his abilities. Most workers want to feel like part the team and really appreciate when they’re trusted to learn more.”
One of the little things Bob, Brian, and Arturo have especially appreciated is that they don’t get as many late-night phone calls as before. Most of the team has been with Blue Royal long enough to have the necessary training and experience to know how to handle whatever might happen late at night.
However, not everything runs according to plans. One of the most frustrating things for Brian and Arturo is when employees leave to go to other dairies after they’ve mastered these new skills. This requires the herd managers to invest more time and energy in teaching the next person they hire, knowing that they could possibly lose him to another dairy as well.
Brian and Arturo admit it’s tempting to give up on their constant teaching and training when this happens. But they both know it’s been this commitment to teaching and growing their team that has helped everyone at the dairy achieve their goals.
“We are only as good as our team” commented Brian. “And for our cows to remain healthy and produce high-quality milk, we need our people to know what to do and how and why to do it. We couldn’t achieve our results if it weren’t for our team.”
And it’s this commitment to teaching and training their team that will help Blue Royal Farms to continue growing in the future.
Tom Wall, president of Language Links LLC, helps dairy producers throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota by teaching, training, and motivating their teams to focus on improving teamwork, herd health, and milk quality. Based out of Green Bay, WI, Language Links can be found online at www.golanguagelinks.com EL
This article topic also appears in Progressive Dairyman. This article has been written specifically for dairy employees. The article in Progressive Dairyman is written for dairy owners and herdsmen.