How Little Accomplishments Can Lead to Big Wins

Heins Family Farms in Higgingsville, MO. ( Wyatt Bechtel )

The new year is just around the corner and many producers are asking themselves what adjustments need to be made on their operation as they head into 2020. While it may be easier to visualize “big picture” changes, Lisa Holden, associate professor of dairy science at Pennsylvania State University, suggest putting more focus on the “little things” instead.

In her recent PennState Extension article titled Little Things Can Make Big Difference in Dairy Farming, Holden offered up these three tips to help improve productivity and profitability on the farm:

Frequent Feed Push-Ups

“One ‘little thing’ to consider is feed push-ups,” Holden writes. “Cows eat more when fresh feed is available, after they return from milking and when feed is pushed up within reach.”

Bumping up the frequency at which feed is pushed up can help improve both milk production and dry matter intake, Holden adds.

“Increasing dry matter intake by one pound per cow per day can increase milk yield by about two pounds,” she says. “So, if one pound of dry matter costs $0.12 and a pound of milk is $0.18 then there is a three-found return on getting that one extra pound of intake. Of course, this varies by stage of lactation, current ration, etc. — but on average this is a pretty good return on investment.”

Spend Time, Not Money

If you’re looking to make other small improvements to your operation, Holden suggests looking at when you are conducting certain tasks.

“Whether it is consistent feed drop times or timing of synchronization programs and breeding, when things happen matters to the final results,” Holden says. “Spending time, rather than any more money and paying attention to the timing of tasks and adjusting when necessary can also result in a positive return on investment.” 

“Please and Thank You”

According to Holden, one of the easiest ways to increase productivity on the farm is to provide a simple “please and thank you” to your employees. 

“Taking the time to thank an employee for a job well done or to recognize effort for improvement when someone is continuing to struggle with a task can go a long way in impacting morale and productivity,” Holden says. 

Help motivate your team by recognizing them for a job well done!

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