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Make Some Time for Employee Management

Libby Eiholzer, Bilingual Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

Last Modified: June 14, 2013

For the most part, area dairy farms have chopped all their corn and packed all of their feed bunks. The field work is almost finished, and hopefully so are some of the tasks on the to-do list. The winter season offers dairy managers extra time to devote to other tasks such as herd health, calf care and reproduction performance. There is one task that should be on that list: employee management, especially with Hispanic employees. This task doesn't usually rate very high on the list, if it makes the list at all, but can make a great difference in employee morale, employee retention, farm efficiency and profitability. Two methods effective methods of employee management are to hold regular staff meetings and to offer individual employee evaluations.

Staff Meetings
A regular staff meeting is a great way to have a general, open forum to discuss farm issues such as overall employee performance, jobs to be done, upcoming events, scheduling, etc. Itís also a great way to bring together the entire team of employees that make the farm work. Different shifts of employees may rarely get the chance to meet each other, so the staff meeting can help get everyone on the same page and build a sense of teamwork- which is crucial to implementing a consistent milking routine. Furthermore, discussions are likely to occur in these staff meetings and questions are likely to be asked. Listen to what comes out of the discussion and be receptive to feedback from the employees. This can easily be done with the help of a bilingual person that can facilitate the meeting, even a bilingual employee of the farm could help. The farm manager should create the agenda which should be organized and planned. The meeting can be integrated with English-speaking employees, or separate meetings can be held. Remember: staff meetings should address general farm issues. Refrain from reprimanding or praising an individual in front of the group.

Employee Evaluations
In my experience, this is the most beneficial, yet commonly ignored human resource practice on dairy farms. Individualized evaluations may seem like a lot of work, but they really donít have to be. The first step is to create a checklist, rubric or other type of form that contains the criteria on which you would like to evaluate your employees. Some of these include: punctuality, cow treatment, milking routine performance, teamwork/gets along with coworkers, etc. Donít forget to leave a section for notes, as they are very helpful for the interpreter. Evaluate your employees, one by one or shift by shift and schedule meetings that fit your time schedule. 20 minutes should be enough for each employee, so schedule about 3 per hour. They donít all have to be done on the same day; itís easier if the meetings are held periodically, rotating the employees. As mentioned earlier, it is okay to use a bilingual employee to translate staff meetings. For employee evaluations, however, a third-party translator is a must. In the meetings, use direct communication and listen to the employee (not the translator.) Try to be as fair and judicious in your remarks as possible and always offer an opportunity for the employee to respond.

Staff meetings and employee evaluations, when used properly, can have enormous impact on your operation. They do require some groundwork to be done by the farm manager, but the end result is improved communication, employee productivity and teamwork. On farms where I have helped with these meetings I have seen a stark improvement in employee attitude and morale- which may be the most valuable result. Please consider these two tools for managing employees on your farm.











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Pasture Walk - Wild Geese Farm - Franklinville, NY

August 21, 2019
5:30pm - 8:30pm
Fanklinville, NY

Topics to include: Tools for Managing Rotational Grazed Pasture, Weed ID and Management and Calculating Cost of Production. 
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Bovine Reproduction and AI Training Course

September 24 - September 25, 2019
9:30am - 3:30pm
Shortsville, NY

This two-day AI workshop will be held on September 24 and 25. 

Topics covered will include:

• Reproductive Physiology
• Synchronization Protocols
• Heat Detection
• Artificial Insemination
• Proper Thawing of Semen
• Loading A.I. guns
• Practice Breeding Cows

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Corn Congress - Batavia Location

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 8, 2020
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Batavia, NY

Please join the NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crop Program's team for our annual Corn Congress.  DEC re-certification points and Certified Crop Adviser credits available, so bring your picture ID.  Lunch is included.  Hear from program-related professionals and visit with our sponsoring vendors.  
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2019 NY Corn & Soybean Yield Contests - Entries Due 8/30/19

The annual corn and soybean yield contests sponsored by the New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association are underway. Click Here for the 2019 yield contest entry form.  This form and contest rules can also be found on the NY Corn & Soybean Growers Association web page at: 

Entry forms must be postmarked by Friday, August 30 and mailed or emailed to Mike Stanyard. Cost is $30 per entry. Good Luck! 

Preventing Sexual Harassment on Farms

If you're wondering how to get your farm business in compliance with NYS Sexual Harassment Regulations, you've come to the right place.  This is a recording of the presentations given at the live training on July 30 and July 31, 2019 across New York State, which provides updates and farm-specific resources developed by CCE. View the recording here:

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."