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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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In the history of milk production, a reoccurring problem for dairy farmers has been the capacity of producing more milk than can be utilized. This problem is complicated by the limited shelf life of milk. In the early 1900s, farmers dealt with this issue by fractionating milk into cream and skim milk. The cream was then churned into butter, and the buttermilk produced was used in baking. The skim milk was fermented into cottage cheese, and the whey produced was fed to farm animals. Consequently, fractionation of milk into its various components and creation of milk-based ingredients is not a new concept.

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As a dairy producer, you are faced with a dilemma: feed price increases typically precede milk price increases. That means your profitability and margins on your milk are squeezed when feed prices go up. Eventually, the higher input costs typically translate into a higher milk price and your bottom line margins recover. However, in the short run, it is a painful experience.

As we look out into the decade or two ahead of us, I expect substantially increased market volatility, substantially higher feed prices and the risk of substantial feed shortages. Why do I expect this volatility, higher prices and potential shortages? Because we are already using our feed inputs at a record pace. World demand for feed grains has been growing rapidly. The ending stocks-to-usage ratio is very low, increasing the risk of price volatility.

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The following article is the fourth in a series of articles summarizing the “Supervisory Skills for Managers” DVD collection produced by Jim Henion. The series provides helpful management hints for owners and managers working with employees on dairy operations.

Dr. Edward Deci of the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences at the University of Rochester tells us, “Motivation means you have energy to behave in a certain way and that you have a sense of direction for that behavior.”

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Today’s dairy producers have access to a lot of new and innovative technology. These technologies are positioned to improve health, cow comfort, reproduction, milk yield, milk components and more. If a producer adopted every new technology that was available, all herds would be over 100 pounds of milk, cull rates would be less than 20 percent, all cows would conceive, heifers would not cost more than $1,800 and all dairy producers would be extremely profitable. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

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The following article is the third in a series of articles summarizing the “Supervisory Skills for Managers” DVD collection produced by Jim Henion. The series provides helpful management hints for owners and managers working with employees on dairy operations.

As farms grow larger and profits become tighter, farm owners and managers are working harder to get all employees focused on a common set of goals and procedures. The foundation of this effort is the basic mission of the farm business.

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Have you ever considered what it takes to motivate cows to do their best work? It’s an odd question to ask, especially when directed at bovines. It puzzled me at first, until I simply pulled out a dictionary and looked up the definition of the word “motivate.”

Motivate means “to provide someone (or, in this case a cow) with a motive.” A motive is “a need (in this case let’s assume a behavioral need) that causes a person (or even a cow) to act (produce milk and stay healthy).” So when we say we want to “motivate” cows, we are really just saying: let’s provide the cow with an environment that satisfies her behavioral needs and allows her to be as healthy and productive as possible.

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