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Scoring Points on the Dairy Farm Leads to Success

Posted: February 2, 2006

With dairy farming, the producer doesn't get to the point of having a productive and profitable herd without a lot of planning, a lot of paying attention to detail, and without all members of the farm team working together.

The Super Bowl is history. However, lessons can be learned from college and professional football. The objective for each team playing is to win the game. Points are made by kicking a field goal or crossing the goal line for a touchdown. Each time the team scores, it helps them move toward reaching that objective of winning the game. With each play, the team hopes to move toward a first down, and first down helps the team move toward the goal line. Generally a team has to use a lot of planned plays to get themselves in position to score. It usually takes a number of scores to win the game.

With dairy farming, the producer doesn't get to the point of having a productive and profitable herd without a lot of planning, a lot of paying attention to detail, and without all members of the farm team working together. Doing well each day on the farm creates first downs. Enough first downs each week helps the farm score points each month. Some may be field goals and some may be touchdowns. Eventually, all the points scored by the end of the year, using successful management practices, moves that farm family closer to a successful dairy operation. Games are not won just by waking up one day with the team going out and playing the game. It takes planning, then practicing over and over again to be consistently better until they have plays perfected. For the dairy family, little improvements made each day add up to the larger goals being reached every week and month. By the end of the year, the dairy farm family can be successful in moving toward their goals for more financial stability and the quality of life they desire.

Changes are constantly taking place in today’s world and are something most people do not enjoy facing. However, the more change is embraced, the more a farmer can ask the question, "How can I do this better?" By asking this, the better positioned you will be to survive and thrive in the future.

With these thoughts in mind, dairy family members need to be proactive by sitting down together and setting goals for their dairy operation. Setting goals helps everyone focus on what is really important to the success of the business. Goals help those involved to focus energy and effort to make everyone's time more productive. Discussing goals can lead to identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the dairy business. Goals can help everyone concentrate on the tasks that are really important to the profitability of the operation and to the satisfaction of the farm family.

Therefore, if you want to improve your dairy farm’s profitability in 2006 and if you want to have a more satisfying dairy operation by the end of this year, start working on it now. Huddle up with the family and employees, draw up some plays (plans) and see if you can score some field goals and touchdowns that will help you and your family in 2006. Focus on what you can control, both in the day-to-day operation of the farm, and on what can be changed to improve the profitability of the farm.

Here are some suggestions to get started:

Consider which two or three problems that if solved would make the most positive difference to the farm operation by the end of 2006 and over the next 3 to 5 years.

Write down the goals. Written goals provide a record for review and allow everyone involved to see the same list.

Goals should be specific and measurable. For example, if your average somatic cell count was 350,000 in 2005, perhaps your goal for 2006 could be to get it down to 275,000.

Goals should include input from all family members and others involved in the management of the dairy operation. This can lead to more enthusiasm and commitment to their assigned responsibilities.

Develop a plan of action for each goal. Remember, it's the little things, every day that at the end of the year will have made a big difference. Determine exactly who, what, when, where, and how activities will take place in order to accomplish a goal. For each plan, there needs to be a priority of tasks to carry out the plan, and by when and whom they will get done. A "To-Do" list, using a format such as the following, can help:

 

To-Do List
Priority Task/Activity By When By Whom Status















For example, if the goal is to reduce SCC to 250,000 by January 2007, then what responsibility does each employee or family member have each week and each month to get there? Stay focused on the objective and be persistent.

Remember, a good attitude and a positive approach each and every day on the dairy farm can make a big difference when you look back at the end of the year. Whatever the situation on the dairy farm, a major factor to its success and its future will be the family’s proactive attitude in setting goals, in developing an action plan, and involving others that can help them reach the success they want. Good plays made each day on the farm create first downs. Enough first downs each week helps the farm score points each month. Eventually, all the points scored by the end of the year moves that farm family closer to a more successful dairy operation and the quality of life they desire.

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Modified from an article written by Neil Broadwater
University of Minnesota, Dairy Connections
Regional Extension Dairy Educator