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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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Operating a dairy farm is a challenging business and offers many rewards. We have seen many changes in the dairy and other agricultural industries in recent years. Milk prices are more volatile. Costs of the various inputs continue to rise. As herd sizes increase, more dairy producers are hiring employees to provide needed labor. To succeed in this business, dairy producers must be willing to consider new ways of doing business.

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I am sure you have heard the old saying, “Variety is the spice of life.” Most agree that meeting new people, learning new ideas and having interesting experiences makes life more delightful. There is also good evidence that people who live fulfilling, interesting lives are more productive.

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Garbage disposal on dairies is an issue that doesn’t usually receive much attention, having sometimes unseen negative impacts on business productivity and image.

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Editor’s Note: The following is the first of a three-part series which discusses labor issues for the progressive dairy.

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It’s a sad fact that many agricultural businesspeople have gotten too good at what they do. If this statement sounds wrong to you, examine the theory behind it. In many cases, producers have gotten better at producing, allowing their businesses to grow. But with those larger businesses come more responsibilities and, frequently, more need for labor that, at one time, would have been provided by an individual family. Both declining family sizes and larger operations have increased the overall need for hired labor.

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Over the past 65 years, the number of dairy farms in the United States has decreased from approximately 4.5 million to 74,000. During the same period, the number of cows per dairy farm increased from five to 125. The total number of dairy cows in this country decreased from 21.5 to 9.1 million while milk per cow increased from 4,500 to 19,000 pounds per year. The current national milk production could be produced in 8,000 dairies milking 1,000 cows producing 20,000 pounds each, thus requiring a 90-percent further reduction in the number of dairy farms.

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