UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Managing for success is the theme of the Dairy Middle Managers Conference offered November 8 in Harrisburg, Pa., by the Penn State Extension Dairy Team. The conference is designed specifically for dairy middle managers.

“Middle managers are critical to the success of dairies. They put dairy owners’ decisions into practice and deal with the day-to-day challenges of managing people and cows,” explained conference coordinator Dr. Lisa Holden, associate professor of Penn State Dairy and Animal Science. “The Middle Manager’s Conference was created to help middle managers develop the management and leadership skills they need to make positive changes in their operation while keeping front-line employees happy and productive,” she added.

The conference focuses on building management skills in a highly interactive format that encourages discussion and networking with peers. Keynote speaker is Bret Bossard, co-owner, Barbland Dairy LLC, Fabius, N.Y., who will present “Intern to Partner: An Open Mind has Opened Doors.”

Bossard grew up on a 60-cow registered dairy in western New York. While earning a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, he worked as an intern on Barbland Dairy. Upon graduating, he was hired by Barbland full-time as an assistant herdsman and managed a start-up 200-cow satellite dairy. In 2008, Barbland Dairy re-organized and Bossard now co-owns the dairy with two partners. Barbland Dairy has a milking herd of 1,300 cows at multiple sites. The dairy grows all its own forages on 2,600 acres, half of which is owned by the partners. All heifers are raised on site. The dairy has 28 full-time and 6 part-time employees.

“Bret’s experience in managing people and cows as both a dairy manager and co-owner gives him a unique perspective on what it takes to build and manage a successful dairy team. His keynote will address how he progressed from the bottom of the dairy to the top over a five-year period. He'll share some of the successes and failures of his own transition from a tie-stall upbringing to managing a 1,300-cow dairy,” explained Holden.

Other conference speakers and their topics include:

Managing Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Employees: Communicating in a Chain of Command. Presented by Santiago Ledwith, dairy coach/consultant of Action Dairy of Canandaigua, N.Y.

Calving, Calf Care and Fresh Pen Management: Presented by Andrew Holloway, DVM, PAS, technical consultant, Elanco Animal Health

Profitable Parlor Operation – A panel of middle managers talks about how their parlors and workers operate to keep milk quality and profits high. Panel participants include Dave Stanton, manager, Hillcrest Saylor Dairy, Rockwood, PA. Panel facilitator will be Jeff Harding, senior sales representative, Elanco Animal Health.

Managing Work Relationships: Good Communication is Key. Presented by Dr. Charlie Gardner of Cargill Animal Nutrition Consulting.

The conference will conclude with a general session titled “What do Dairy Owners Expect from Their Managers?” The session will feature a panel of owners talking about their wants, needs, and work expectations. Dr. Lisa Holden, associate professor of dairy science at Penn State, will facilitate the panel.

Conference participants will also enjoy ample time to network with other middle managers over lunch and during breaks. “This conference was the motivator I needed as a middle manager,” notes Kimberley Bunting, assistant herd manager at Mains Dairy in Newville, Pa., and a past conference attendee. “It focused on my needs as a middle manager and the issues I am faced with daily. I feel that I now know how to better manage my time, better communicate, and better meet the needs of the people I work with.”

The Dairy Middle Manager’s Conference will be held at the Best Western Premier: The Central Hotel and Conference Center, 800 East Park Drive, Harrisburg, Pa. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Program partners include Elanco and the Center for Dairy Excellence.

The registration fee is $97. The Centre for Dairy Excellence is offering scholarships to the first 20 Pennsylvania dairy employees who register for this program. This scholarship reduces the registration fee to $47. Scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 20 Pennsylvania dairy employees who call the Penn State Extension Dairy Team office at: 888-373-7232. Registration with scholarship will be accepted by phone only. For more information, visit:

Source: Penn State University Extension