Buckeye Dairy News : Volume 3 Issue 1



    What do you like to do that you don't do well Easy question for most people! Nothing! Now imagine having your first job on a dairy farm and not knowing how to do what you have been hired to do. Most people gain more satisfaction from doing a job well than stumbling along on their own trying to learn. New employees need and want training.
    The importance of training programs has increased dramatically. Margins for acceptable error have decreased. Equipment has become more complicated. Farm work is complex. People with all the necessary skills and experience for success cannot be hired Many new employees were not raised on a farm. New employees who have worked for another dairy farmer are likely to bring habits that need to be changed. Training is essential!

    Getting Ready to Train

    Dairy farmers should separate getting ready to train from doing the actual training. Trainers are often so experienced in what they are teaching that taking time to prepare for training seems like a waste of time. "I don't have time to prepare" or "I know this job so well I don't need to think about how to teach it" are usually foolish attitudes. Muddled instructions increase the time spent on training.

    Confusion causes frustration for both trainer and employee.

    Two important questions guide preparation for training. First, what is the objective of the training? Define specifically what the workers are to know or be able to do at the conclusion of the training. Does the new milker need to know how to do preventive maintenance on the milking equipment? Does the tractor driver need to know how do determine when a field is too wet to work? An acceptable level of performance and timetable for the training should also be established. What is excellent work? Is anything less than excellent acceptable? What is the difference between good enough and excellent? Who will notice or care about how well a job is done?

    Second, what are the principal steps in the task and in what sequence should they be done? Analyzing each task can be helpful. Develop tips to make the job easier to do, to do more quickly and to do with less frustration. Keep in mind that a new worker needs help that builds on what he or she now can or cannot do.

    Having determined the objectives of the training and the principal steps in the job, the trainer is ready to prepare equipment, materials, learning aids and the work place for the actual training. Stopping training to look for equipment or supplies leaves the learner suspicious that the trainer is careless or incompetent or both.

    The actual training of a new employee can be aided by a five-step teaching method:

    1. PREPARE the learner. Learners are prepared when they are at ease, understand why they need to learn the task, are interested in learning, have the confidence that they can learn and the trainer can teach. The most important part of learner preparation is creating a need to know or desire to learn. Each of the following is helpful in preparing the learner: show enthusiasm for the task, relate the task to what the learner already knows and help the learner envision being an expert in the task. It also helps to add fun and prestige to the task and to associate the task with respected co-workers.

    2. TELL the learner about each step or part of the task.

    3. SHOW the learner how to do each step. In demonstrating the task, explain each step emphasizing the key points and more difficult steps. Remember the little and seemingly simple parts of the task. Get the learner involved by asking questions about what is being shown.

    4. Have the learner DO each step of the task while being observed by the trainer. Ask the learner to explain each step as it is performed. If steps or parts of the task are omitted, reexplain the steps and have the learner repeat them. Then have the learner do the steps without the trainer observing.

    5. REVIEW each step or part of the task with the learner, offering encouragement, constructive criticism and additional pointers on how to do the job. Be frank and honest in the appraisal. Encourage the learner toward self- appraisal.
    These five steps work! They help create an ideal learning situation based on the following guidelines and assumptions:

    • All employees can learn.
    • Trainers should make learning an active process.
    • Learners need and want guidance and direction.
    • Learning should be step-by-step.
    • Learners need time to practice.
    • Learning should be varied to avoid boredom.
    • Learners gain satisfaction from their learning.
    • Trainers should encourage and reinforce learner progress.
    • Learning does not occur at a steady rate, i.e., plateaus follow spurts of progress.
    • Getting Started

    Improved training offers dairy farm managers a way to increase employee job satisfaction and progress. Deciding what can be accomplished through better training is a good starting point. Creating a positive environment for learning helps both the trainer and the employees. Preparing before jumping in avoids confusion and frustration. Using a five-step method, Prepare-Tell- Show-Do-Review, steers both trainers and employees toward greater success.

  2. A Few Tactical Changes to Improve Your Bottom-Line

    Normand St-Pierre 
    Department of Animal Sciences

    We all know that current milk prices are ... well... dismal. And there are no sign of much relief on that front anytime soon. But milk price is only one component of the net income equation. The number of cows being milked, their daily milk production and the costs incurred to produce that milk are all as important as milk price in the determination of net farm income. So, what are some of the things that you can do to improve your bottom line during these low milk price times?

    1. If you are using BST, you should use it on a high proportion of the herd. Either BST is profitable for you, or else it is not. If it is, then use it to its fullest. You wouldn't milk only the front quarters on your best cows. Then don't do the same with technology.

    2. Milk the same number of cows, but go to a 3X-milking schedule. Going 3X is a great cash flow enhancer because it doesn't require any additional fixed capital assets (buildings, machinery, equipment, etc...). It is however, a pain on the management!

    3. Milk more cows 2X compared to milking fewer cows at 3X. Milking facilities are used more efficiently when a parlor is fully used on a 2X schedule.

    4. Raise your replacement heifers so that they freshen by 23 months of age, weighing 1,250 lbs (after freshening), for less than $1,200.

    5. Feed your lactating herd for less than $4.00/cwt of milk. Do a critical assessment of all the feed additives that you may be using. Review feed shrink during storage and feeding.

    6. Make extensive use of soil and feed analyses for balancing crops and feeding programs. Check the moisture of you ensiled forage on a weekly basis.

    7. Overcrowd pens according to animal performance. A four-row barn can support more overcrowding than a six-row barn. High groups can be stocked up to 110% of capacity (number of stalls). Low groups can tolerate up to 125% of capacity. Many factors affect the maximum pen capacity. So be careful with this one.

    8. Use only one person in the parlor for as many hours as possible. Keep distraction out of the parlor. This includes the "cow pusher". We have made many measurements of cow throughput in Ohio parlors and the one rule that seems to be universal is that cow throughput drops when the cow pusher steps in the parlor "to help". Tell him to drink coffee if he has nothing else to do. Your parlor operation will improve the more coffee he drinks!

    9. Mark December 4, 2000 on your calendar. This is when you should attend the second Ohio Dairy Conference and learn on more ways to improve your operation and its profitability. 

  3. Progressive Dairy Producers Begin 2000 Membership Drive

    Deb Ayers, PDPO Treasurer, Perrysville, OH

    Progressive Dairy Producers of Ohio (PDPO) is currently working on membership for 2000. Active membership fees for new members will be $50 per herd and $0.50 per mature cow over 100 cows. Current members renewing their membership within 90 days after receipt of the renewal reminder will be eligible to save $25 on their renewed membership. The renewal reminder will be sent in the near future. All active members, new or renewals, will also be credited $50 towards conferences that PDPO sponsors throughout the year. OSU dairy students will be eligible for a free associate membership, which will be valid as long as they are students. All members will receive a membership card and certificate.

    Many of you will be receiving more information regarding PDPO membership in the mail. For more information, please contact Deb Ayers at (419) 928-7707 (email: dcdairy@bright.net) or Dale Arbaugh at (740) 946-5212 (email: arbavue@eohio.net). 

  4. Third Annual Dairy Farm Employee Short Course

    The Third Annual DAIRY FARM EMPLOYEE SHORT COURSE will be held March 15-17 at the Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, OH. The Short Course is designed for recently hired dairy farm employees or individuals pursuing work as dairy farm employees. Participants can select from either the milking or feeding management modules. First-time participants must attend all three days, but individuals having previously attended can choose another module and attend on March 16 only. The registration fee is $235 for 3 days and $120 for March 16 only. For additional information, contact Tom Noyes, Extension Dairy Agent, 330-264-8722 or Jan Elliott, ATI Continuing Education, 330-264-3911 Ext. 1220.