Editor's note: This Practice Builder ran in the July 17, 2009, edition of this newsletter and bears repeating today. It was provided by Corwin Holtz, nutritionist from Dryden, N.Y.

Balancing diets is certainly a part of the role that I have with my clients, but day to day I serve as much, if not more, as an information conduit and facilitator as I do a "nutritionist." There are numerous factors on a dairy that play a role in allowing a diet to perform as expected and desired. A few of these would be such things as forage quality and bunk/feeding management, reproductive programs and performance, somatic cell and clinical mastitis, cow comfort and heat-stress relief and cow handling and movement by those who interact with the herd. Many other management topics could be listed here, but these are some of the most common ones I face and am challenged by on a daily basis.

As an independent consultant, I have training and expertise in some of these and other management areas, but certainly not an expert in all. When a client is facing challenges in some of these management areas that might not fall into my "expertise," it is my job (and obligation) to find answers from those who are the experts and/or to facilitate an "expert" in a management area of concern to visit the farm and provide advice. In some cases, I may very well be on the right track with my own advice and recommendations, BUT having that "expert" second opinion expressed by an outside party will finally sway my client to make the needed management change to address whatever issue we are tackling.

This role as an information provider/facilitator I find to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my consulting "jobs." Not only do I satisfy my client's needs, but it is a learning opportunity for me to expand my knowledge base that I can use in the future with other clients. Broadening my client and my own knowledge base is a win-win activity for all involved. Also, it allows me to broaden my contacts within our industry to better serve my clients as challenges at the farm level continue on a daily basis.

The adage of "it's not what you know, but who you know" is not completely accurate. Rather, I find my greatest successes resulting from a combination of "what I know and who I know" to bring the greatest value to my clients.