HARRISBURG, Pa. — Proper animal care on farms is critical because well cared for animals translates into a more successful operation and also an improved public image.
Almost all farmers seem to be under a consumer magnifying glass; consequently, it’s now more important than ever for all farmers and ranchers to continue focusing on improved animal husbandry practices.
Various organizations around the country provide their members with suggested written protocols for dairy and beef producers. The goal of both the Dairy Animal Care Quality Assurance (DACQA) and Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) programs is to provide protocols with best management practices for dairy and beef producers to better manage their herds and improve consumer confidence.
National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Dairy Management Inc., are implementing their new Quality Assurance initiative known as the National Dairy F.A.R.M. Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management. The program was developed to demonstrate that U.S. milk producers are committed to providing the highest standards of animal care and quality assurance.
Betsy Flores, National Milk Producers Federation director of regulatory affairs, said the F.A.R.M. Program has an Animal Care Manual and Quick User Reference Guide on its website with information to help farm managers better train employees.
It’s that on-farm animal care and special attention to employees that has combined for a win-win situation at Rosendale Dairy in Pickett, Wis. Herd manager Clay Reese, a Pennsylvania native, knows first-hand that proper employee training is the key to a successful operation.
The Cornell animal science graduate believes that managers must first make time to train employees and overcome the challenges of limited time, resources and in some cases, language barriers.
Rosendale Dairy milks 6,250 cows. Reese manages herd health, maternity and parlor staff with all three areas employing 59 people — several from other countries that speak very little English. Reese said that it makes a huge difference when managers make an effort to learn key phrases in different languages because it shows that managers care for their employees on a deeper level. He encourages employers to ask about their employees’ families.
The dairy farm manager believes that employees with efficient training, and who are treated with more dignity and respect, will perform at higher levels.
Morale falls at the worst time if bonuses are missed after a long period of time. Compensation packages of wages, health benefits, and 401K matching plans are better financial incentives to acquire and maintain good people.
A key to Rosendale Dairy’s success is their team approach. Employees share common goals; they trust and respect each other to develop into an efficient team, capable of meeting the needs of high producing cows, according to Reese.
Reese encourages more management training but said a good start is building relationships with employees that influence them to want to meet your expectations and develop and grow in the business.
For more information, visit www.pa-bqa.org or www.centerfordairyexcellence.org.
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