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Dairy farming can be like baseball

Gale Bateman Published on 07 October 2009

Dairy farming and baseball are very similar. In both baseball and dairy farming you have to learn the fundamentals and apply them every time you step on the field.

Baseball is a team sport and every position is important. In baseball, you have to learn to stay in your position because others are depending on you to be there. You also have to learn to rely upon your teammates to be in their position.

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Dairy farming is similar. Successful dairy farms establish a good support team and utilize them. In dairy farming, you have to learn to let others do their jobs on your ‘team’ while you stay in your position and do your job.

In baseball, you have to learn to recognize both a good and a bad pitch. By swinging at good pitches and not swinging at bad pitches the player learns that they can get on base and have a chance at scoring. In dairy farming you have to learn to “lay off” of the bad pitches that come your way but also “swing away” at some of the good pitches.

Successful dairy farms are constantly bombarded with information; seemingly daily. Some of this information is good and some of it is bad. Recognizing the good information and then taking advantage of it will provide your farm with a tactical advantage.

In baseball, you have to learn to field the ball and then decide what to do with it very quickly. Making quick yet good decisions is also important for successful dairy farming.

Dairy producers must constantly be aware of their surroundings, recognize when opportunities make an impact in their area, and then act on those opportunities. Baseball has umpires that enforce rules that everyone must use. Sometimes those rules seem arbitrary and sometimes the umpires make mistakes in interpretation.

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However, regardless, they are the official and their word is final. A similar situation exists for dairy producers.

Different government and industry groups have established rules under which all farms must operate. Sometimes these rules may seem arbitrary and sometimes evidence that they are not applied evenly across all locations may exist. Still, they are official and their interpretation must be adhered to for the continued operation of the farm.

We also know that in baseball, rule interpretations can be appealed to higher authorities. This can also be done in dairy farming through our legal system.

Under normal circumstances baseball is not perfect. The official score book actually contains a location for recording errors and a record of those errors becomes part of the permanent record for that game. This is to show where there is room for improvement.

Dairy farms need similar records. By recording actual outcomes a dairy producer can go back and evaluate the outcome of any action. By recording both the good and the bad outcomes, they are able to learn from their mistakes and continue to improve.

Both baseball and dairy farming rely on successful managers. The manager must make decisions and stand behind them. Sometimes they are made with less-than-perfect information but they still have to be made. Sometimes these decisions result in bad outcomes for the team.

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Successful managers will make more decisions that result in good outcomes than bad.

Baseball has an extensive support system for the players. These are the parents, siblings, coaches, league officials, and fans. They encourage the players when they do well and offer encouragement and support when they see areas that the players can improve.

Successful dairy farms also have an extensive support system. Dairy farming is a mentally and physically exhausting profession. The support of friends and relatives is essential for maintaining the long- term success of the producer.

We all know that baseball players sometimes “forget” what they have learned and have to be re-taught. Dairy farmers sometimes have this same phenomenon. Even though something worked or did not work last year, we may or may not try it again this year.

Eventually we learn to trust what we know and to remember our experiences, but it takes time and patience.

Finally, we know that the best players in baseball have the potential to advance to professional baseball and have a great financial reward. However, when interviewed, these players always indicate that hard work and practice is what got them to their level. This is also similar to dairy farming.

Successful dairy farmers do not simply “go milk cows.” Rather, they work hard each and every day ensuring that the details of their operation are properly considered. These producers are constantly “practicing” for their chosen occupation and working hard to make themselves better.

The most successful dairy producers stay in the business and find it both emotionally and financially rewarding. PD

Gale Bateman
Ruminant Nutritionist
Akey

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