Looking at Your Dairy with a Systematic Approach

Posted: February 18, 2019 | Written By: Brant J. Groen, Form-A-Feed

farm systems

Have you ever been overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done or improved today or this week?  I know I have.   What have you found that works the best for you to get things done on time?  What have you found that works to make the necessary improvements and measure results?

It is time for all dairy farms, no matter what size, to look at their farm systems and manage each independently, and then as a total unit.  If you look at your farm and break it up into individual systems, you can then evaluate and improve one system at a time, and not be so overwhelmed when you look at the whole farm at once.

Let’s look at some of the systems on your dairy farm.  The systems may vary a little on every dairy farm as every farm is unique.   Every system is important, and we can’t dismiss any.

Which one should be worked on first in your operation? 

Would you like assistance with any of the areas?

 

Dairy Farm Systems of Management – with some examples

  • Income protection. Every dairy farm must use all the tools available to protect and insure income.  These would include:
    • MPC – Margin Protection Coverage
    • Dairy-RP – Dairy Revenue Protection Insurance
    • LGM – Livestock Gross Margin Insurance
    • Contracting milk
    • Contracting feed
    • Contracting services
  • Financial management/records
    • Working with a financial adviser
    • Knowing your costs
    • Knowing your break-evens
    • Knowing your ratios
    • Cost/returns associated with each system
    • Knowing financials on a monthly basis
  • Herd records
    • Use of software to help manage dairy information
      • Understanding how to develop and use reports
    • Using DHIA and all it offers
    • Using Form-A-Feed’s dairy analytics to monitor strengths and opportunities
  • Employee management
    • Are you hiring the right people/using them in the right places?
    • Do you have regular and on-going training?
    • Do your employees understand your expectations, and are they reviewed on regular basis?
    • Have you developed checklists/protocols for employees?
    • Do you let employees know they are valued regularly?
  • Feeding
    • Feed storage management
      • Is the bunker cover removed so plastic is not blowing in the wind?
      • Is the bunker defaced daily?
      • Is feed being wasted due to spillage or poor face management?
    • TMR management
      • Feed management software – usually will pay for itself in 6-12 months
      • Is the TMR maintained properly?
      • Are shaker boxes performed regularly to monitor TMR performance?
      • Are cattle fed on time?
    • Bunk management
      • Is feed pushed up every hour?
      • Is edible feed available 24/7?
      • Are bunks cleaned daily?
    • Inventory management
      • Is feed inventory done frequently?
      • Based on the number of cows, are we going through the desired amount of protein/mineral?
    •  Water
      • Are waterers cleaned 2 times per week?
      • Is water consumption monitored?
  • Milking
    • Milking equipment
      • Check liner condition
      • Check vacuum levels
      • Check pulsation
    • Milking procedure
      • Are milkers all using consistent prep procedures?
      • Is prep lag time correct and consistent?
      • Are clinical cows identified in a timely manner?
    • Stall maintenance
      • Are stalls groomed at least 2 times daily?
      • Is bedding at the proper depth?
      • Are stalls clean and dry?
    •  Manure/scraping
      • Are cross alleys clean?
      • What is your cow cleanliness score?
    •  Footbath
      • Is the footbath changed every 300 passes?
      • Are you using softened water?
      • Are mixing chemical at the proper strength?
      • Are you using an acidifier?
    •  Clean-up
      • Is the parlor being scrubbed on a daily basis?
      • Are the proper chemicals being used for cleaning?
  • Reproduction
    • Sire selection criteria
      • Pedigree
      • Breed Association
      • USDA
      • AAA
    • Repro protocols to achieve DIM of 165 or less
      • What protocols are in place to achieve a preg rate of at least 26%?
    • Repro – virgin heifers
      • What is your average age at 1st calving?
      • Are 85% percent of your heifers pregnant by 15 months of age?
  • Herd health
    • Vaccination/prevention & treatment protocols
      • Do you have a veterinarian written health plan for your dairy?
    • Hoof health
      • Are you hoof trimming all dry cows or cows soon to be dry?
      • Is maintenance trimming done at least every 2 months?
      • Are you running a foot bath at least 3 days per week?
  • Transition cow
    • Calving protocols
      • Do you have written protocols for calving and processing the calf?
    • Fresh cow protocols
      • Do you have a written protocol for processing fresh cows?
      • Do you have headlocks for fresh cows?
    • Management of dry cow and fresh cow pens
      • Do you have at least 30” bunk space per cow?
      • Are dry cow and fresh cow rations balanced regularly?
      • Do you monitor metabolic disorders?
  • Herd replacements
    • Managing proper inventory
      • Have you calculated the number of heifers needed for your operation so you don’t have excess heifers?
    • Wet calves
      • Do you have protocols in place for feeding, bedding, cleaning?
      • Do you have protocols for treatment if needed?
      • Are proper milk volumes fed?
      • Is there free access to water for all calves?
    • Weaning calves
      • Are best management practices followed for weaning calves?
    • Weaning to pre-fresh heifers
      • Are rations balanced for heifers?
      • Are heifers grouped properly?
      • Are best management practices followed for vaccination, dehorning, etc.?
  • Animal comfort/facilities
    • Animal comfort
      • Do facilities allow for at least 12 hours of lay time per day?
    • Bedding
      • Are all animals clean and dry?
    • Ventilation
      • Is ventilation properly designed for all seasons of the year?
    • Manure management
      • Timely cleaning
      • Timely removal
    • Maintenance/repairs protocols
      • Milking equipment
      • TMR/tractor
      • Skid steer
      • Barns/gates
      • Farm yard
  • There several more such as cropping, harvesting, feed storage

 

We at Form-A-Feed believe that working with clients goes far beyond driving the feed truck in the yard.  We believe in going beyond nutrition.   Our nutritional consultants are highly trained in going beyond nutrition to help every client with various areas of opportunity on their farm.  In addition, Form-A-Feed offers Sci-Tech Consulting Services, a program with a team of experts available to work with you on coaching, training and analytics.  This team approach can help you with your system of management areas – strengths, opportunities, and implementation suggestions.  Is there a system area you would like to work on?   We can help!

Contact a Form-A-Feed Representative