Operations Managers Virtual Conference Series

January 28 – February 18, 2021

Operations management on dairy farms is integral to success of the farm business. Presented by Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association, Operations Managers Conference provides an opportunity for the people responsible for day to day activities on dairy farms to increase their management and operations skills.

Due to ongoing uncertainty related to the Coronavirus pandemic and anticipated strict limitations on an in-person experience, the 2021 event will be offered as a 100 percent virtual conference series.  Join us for a four-week virtual event featuring educational topics and applicable strategies for management teams, whether your focus is managing cows, crops or people.

Format & Schedule

The virtual conference series will be held every Thursday from 12:00 – 2:00 PM, beginning on Thursday, January 28 and continue through February 18. Each weekly live Zoom session includes a keynote address designed to educate and inspire across all management specialties and your choice of one breakout session topic. All sessions will be recorded and available on-demand to registered participants through the conference app.

What You Can Expect

  • Weekly two-hour sessions with live Q&A
  • Dynamic keynote presentations
  • Specialty breakout sessions (including 4 topics presented in Spanish)
  • On-demand recordings of all presentations
  • Easy-to-navigate conference app

Series Agenda

The 2021 agenda has been approved for 5 ARPAS Continuing Education credits.

12:00 PM - Welcome

12:05 PM - Kickoff Session

SOAR Leadership
Christie Andrus-Nakano, The Human Factor

Great farmers know they can’t change the weather but they can control the way they respond to the forecast. We know this applies to crop production and cow care, but can it apply in the management of your people? Short answer: YES.

SOARing into Leadership is about how you approach getting the most from your folks. What are the strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results you need from your team? Your work gets done best when your plan is clear, when people understand what’s expected of them, and that they, and their work matter to the big picture. That human factor can be the difference between watching your profits washed away in a storm and having the crops brought in just in time. Join us as we talk about how to approach the people management side of your business.

12:55 PM - Break

1:05 PM - Breakout Sessions

Yield Data and Calibration Results
Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Cornell University and Karl Czymmek, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

In this presentation we will give an update on development of a statewide soil specific yield potential database for corn silage and grain, setting field and farm specific yield potentials, the adaptive management process currently in place in New York, and the development of an N balance approach to field nitrogen management evaluations as a new addition to the adaptive management options.

Welfare of Dairy Cattle: Relevance to the Animal, the Producer and the Consumer
Dr. Jennifer Van Os, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Holsteins are black and white, but the issues we face in modern farming are not always so clear cut. What do consumers far-removed from food production expect regarding animal care? How do producers reconcile these expectations with practical constraints and what is best for our animals? Scientific research can help us optimize the welfare of dairy cows and calves while balancing consumer concerns with producer realities.

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin Your Team
Tom Wall, The Dairy Coach LLC

You've probably heard a lot of good advice on how to become a better manager.  How many of these best practices have you actually put into action?    If you're still not ready to implement what you SHOULD be doing, here are 10 things you definitely SHOULDN'T do.

Getting Heifers Off to a Great Start / Iniciando Becerras con Exito (presented in Spanish)
Dr. Fernando Soberon, Standard Dairy Consultants

When managing and caring for animals, there are many things that we do that impact their well-being. However, there are a few things that we can do that will impact the rest of their productive life. We will explore some of the basics management practice that we can do with calves that will have a long-lasting effect in their development and their productivity.

Al cuidar y manejar animales, hay muchas prácticas de manejo que impactan su bienestar. Sin embargo, existen algunas prácticas específicas que afectaran el resto de su vida productiva. Exploraremos algunas de las prácticas de manejo básicas que podemos utilizar para tener un efecto positivo en el desarrollo a largo plazo y la vida productiva de la becerra.

12:00 PM - Welcome

12:05 PM - Kickoff Session

Dairy as a Key Player in the Future of Climate Solutions
Tara Vander Dussen, New Mexico Milkmaid

Farmers are doing more for sustainability than we give ourselves credit for.  Innovation and improved efficiencies have led to greater sustainability.   How we can do a better job of sharing our accomplishments?  What does Net Zero means for the future?  And how will all of this come into play with consumers and our markets?  This presentation will leave you feeling good about the present and future of dairy.

12:55 PM - Break

1:05 PM - Breakout Sessions

Environmental Update
Karl Czymmek, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

Dairy Replacement Costs and Analysis
Jason Karszes, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

Dairy replacement costs are a significant portion of the operating expenses of a dairy farm. This session will cover costs associated with raising dairy replacements, when those costs are incurred, and what factors on farms lead to the variation in costs to raise dairy replacements.

Protecting Your Farm from HR Violations
Dr. Richard Stup, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development

Middle managers and supervisors play a big role in shaping the work experience of farm employees. In effect, they are the direct representative of managment and ownership. This also means that supervisors and middle managers have a big responsibility for helping the business avoid major human resource problems such as discrimination and harassment complaints, or workforce unrest and organizing. This workshop will focus on the important HR concepts and laws that are particularly important for managers who directly supervise other employees.

Is There a Link between Bedding and Milk Quality? / ¿Existe una conexión entre el material de camas y calidad de leche? (presented in Spanish)
Dr. Paula Ospina, Lechear

Five New York State herds, each with a different bedding type, were followed over 1 year and monthly bedding and bulk tank (BT) samples collected. Bedding characteristics (pH, dry matter, and bacteria counts) and BT bacterial counts and SCC were evaluated. We found significant sampling variability, but no direct association between bedding type and BT milk quality. However, dryer bedding resulted in fewer bacteria (across all bedding types).

Cinco fincas de Nueva York, cada una usando material diferente para las camas, participaron en la investigación por un año. Cada mes se recogió material de camas y una muestra de leche del tanque. Las características (pH, % de humedad, contado de bacteria) del material de cama fueron grabadas igual que las células somáticas y contado de bacteria en el tanque. Encontramos mucha variabilidad, pero no encontramos una asociación entre el tipo de material de cama y calidad de leche. Se confirmo que entre más seco el material menos bacteria (en todos los tipos de material).

12:00 PM - Welcome

Links to join are shared upon registration.

12:05 PM - Kickoff Session

Lessons Learned in Safety and Compliance Off the Farm
Callan Space, Millbrook Farms; Jeremy Bergen, Bergen Farms; Phil Hall, Shoemaker Farm and Tonya Van Slyke, NEDPA (moderator)

Farm safety and educating our growing teams have been a priority on dairy farms for decades. The NY OSHA Dairy LEP has given farms and managers another opportunity to examine their safety protocols and provide continuous improvement to safety programs. We have recently learned that the NY Dairy LEP will be a priority area for OSHA in 2021. Continuous improvement and worker education/worker training is a critical component for participation in FARM as well as documenting regulatory compliance. This diverse panel will share how their off-the-farm career experiences at Amazon, in the US Navy, and as a union welder have helped them design safety programs on the farm while bringing more efficiencies to various sectors of the farm.

12:55 PM - Break

We will take a short break to allow attendees to select and join a breakout session of their choice

1:05 PM - Breakout Sessions

Dry Period Heat Stress: Effects on Dam and Daughter
Dr. Geoff Dahl, University of Florida

Whereas the beneficial effects of cooling cows during lactation are clear, less work has been done to examine the impact of dry cow cooling on subsequent performance and health, and on the developing fetus.This presentation will explore the recent work related to late gestation cooling on milk yield, metabolism, and immune status in the cow, and also reviews the effects of in utero heat stress on the heifer calf.Finally, economic implications of heat stress in the dry period will be explored.

Success of Onboarding Programs
Libby Eiholzer and Mary Kate MacKenzie, Cornell Cooperative Extension

As standards for employee management in the dairy industry grow and evolve, onboarding presents a unique opportunity for farms to get off on the right foot with new workers. Join us for a recap of success stories and lessons learned after a year and a half of working with dairy farms to implement employee onboarding. CCE Specialists Libby Eiholzer and Mary Kate MacKenzie will discuss the process and impacts of designing onboarding programs for farms with as few as 5 to as many as 90 employees. Whether you are curious or skeptical about onboarding, this presentation will help you consider how it could benefit your operation.

Repair/Replace and Capital Investment Decision Making
Jason Karszes, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

Replacement and upgrading of equipment is continous process on dairy farms. As cost of equipment continue to increase, formalizing the process for which decisions are made for replacing equipment and making capital investments decisions is becoming more critical. A process will be shown for making repair vs replace decisions and included in the capital investment decision making process.

TMR Audit - Opportunities to Improve Feed Consistency, Accuracy, and Efficiency / Auditoría de la RTM - Oportunidades para Mejorar Consistencia, Exactitud, y Eficiencia de Alimentación (presented in Spanish)
Travis Thayer, Diamond V

12:00 PM - Welcome

Links to join are shared upon registration.

12:05 PM - Kickoff Session

Leading for Employee Recruitment, Satisfaction and Retention
Stan Moore, Michigan State University Extension

What matters to your team, should matter to you! How you lead employees affects recruitment, satisfaction and retention.  Have you felt overwhelmed with labor management, questioning your competence in this area? Do you feel like other managers have all the quality employees? A stable, unified labor force has positive impacts on farm productivity, product quality, and profitability. Michigan State University Senior Farm Business Management Educator, Stan Moore will share the results of recent research involving dairy farm employees and managers, with take-home messages for you to become a better manager and leader of people.

12:55 PM - Break

We will take a short break to allow attendees to select and join a breakout session of their choice

1:05 PM - Breakout Sessions

Improving Efficiencies in the Feeding System
Mark Tegeler, Diamond V

How to Make the Jump from Co-Worker to Manager
Rachel Holtz, Willow Bend Farm; David Munoz, Brooksco Dairy; Adam Bates, Stauffer Farms; and Debbie Grusenmeyer, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

Making the jump from co-worker to manager can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. Will your co-workers be jealous of your growth and position change? How will they react to and accept instruction from you? Will you be expected to make personnel changes on your own? What changes can you make on your own and what do you need to consult others (owners, other employees) on before enacting? All of these questions will become factors as you make the change from co-worker to manager. Three big areas to focus on when making this change include, 1: Keep working hard, 2: Change your job title, not your attitude, and 3: Be a manager that you yourself would want to work for.

Using Technology and Record Keeping Systems to Improve Efficiencies in Crop Production
Tim Lewis, Dairy One; Avery DeGolyer, Western NY Crop Management Association; and Joe Lawrence, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

In this session we will hear from Agronomy professionals in how they utilize technology and record keeping to assist growers as well as optimize their own businesses. They will share tips for optimizing the use of technology to collect data and making the most of the data collected for decision making.

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin Your Team / Las 10 Mejores Maneras de Arruinar su Equipo (presented in Spanish)
Tom Wall, The Dairy Coach LLC

You've probably heard a lot of good advice on how to become a better manager.  How many of these best practices have you actually put into action?   If you're still not ready to implement what you SHOULD be doing, here are 10 things you definitely SHOULDN'T do.

Usted probablemente ha escuchado muchos consejos buenos para convertirse en un mejor gerente.  ¿Cuántas de estas prácticas idóneas ha puesto en marcha?   Si usted no está listo para implementar lo que DEBERÍA estar haciendo, aquí hay 10 cosas que definitivamente NO DEBERÍA hacer.


We are grateful for the continued support of these industry partners. Contributions from these supporters enable us to offer high quality events. Visit each company's website for further information on products and services.

Logo of Dairy One

Gold Level

Diamond V company logo

Gold Level

Bronze Level

For more information

Heather Darrow, PRO-DAIRY Conference Coordinator
Phone: (607) 255-4478
Email: hh96 [at] cornell.edu