The Manager - July 2023

Operations Managers Conference: Managing for consistency while leading through change

Julie Berry

Presented by Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), the biennial Operations Managers Conference 2023 drew an engaged crowd of middle managers and industry leaders, of which over 45 percent were dairy farm owners, managers and employees. This Manager issue captures the conference theme of managing for consistency while leading through change and several of the conference's speakers serve as authors. Keynotes included presentations on "The intersection between animal and human wellbeing and productivity", "Earning public trust in modern dairy practices", "Everything you must know about sleep but are too tired to ask!", and a safety panel.

Calf barn ventilation

Timothy Terry

Many calf housing options exist, but important system fundamentals need to be incorporated into the design related to ventilation, calf comfort, labor efficiency, cost effectiveness, and group versus individual housing strategies, for the system to be successful. Let's talk ventilation. Calf barns have many sources of contamination: moisture, dust, pathogens, heat, and noxious gases. The goal is to provide fresh air at a sufficient velocity to mix and remove these contaminates without causing a draft on the calves, as well as at a volume such that the exiting air is only slightly stale.

Lean 5S: Making the physical workplace work

Richard Stup

Farm employers are constantly looking for ways to get work done better, faster, and more consistently. In this era of ever-increasing labor costs and decreasing availability of employees, it's even more important to focus on labor productivity and efficiency. Lean management philosophy holds the promise to improve labor productivity and efficiency, but it's much more than that. Lean is an approach that can also involve employee teams in continuous improvement of quality and performance, thereby engaging employees in a positive way.

Crop season safety

Jim Carrabba, Joe Lawrence, and Kirsten Workman

Farming is not just a job. It is a way of life. Unfortunately, many dangers are associated with this vocation. Individuals on farms are exposed to a host of mechanical and environmental hazards every day that increase risk of injury or death. It is vitally important to be safe and to keep employees safe and productive. Working safely and avoiding mishaps saves money and makes your operation more efficient, but most important, everyone should go home safely at the end of the day!

Structure and clarity retain employees and enhance efficiency

Collin McCarthy

One of the biggest differences between farmers who struggle to be progressive and make changes and those who possess the agility to tackle change boils down to structure and clarity. These farms have a framework of systems and a clear chain of command so employees know how to have concerns addressed and how to get things done quickly. These dynamic farms through management structure provide true clarity for employees: clarity of how and why they do their jobs, how their jobs impact the business, and how everyone fits in the structure of the farm.

Technology within your training system

Kaitlyn Lutz

Odds are if I asked about technology and regulations in place on your dairy you'd tell me there are significantly more of both today than 20 years ago. I would also guess you're more interested in one than the other! Many states, and countries, are seeing rapid changes in environmental, labor, and animal care regulations. Along with these changes come new training requirements for employees to stay up to date and in compliance. The FARM program's current version 4.0, for example, brought about annually required training in the areas of euthanasia, calf care, stockmanship, fitness for transport, and non-ambulatory cattle handling. Along with meeting regulatory requirements, effective employee training is essential to stay competitive in today's dairy industry, where labor is short and margins are tight.