East Smithfield, Pa.
Gorrell Dairy LLC is home to 670 cows and 610 heifers.
*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.
I have always said that we are only as good as our employees. My wife, Robin, and I have come a long way from our beginnings of being the workforce to where we are today. I know we have had our own learning curve, both with what kind of employee we are looking for and how we delegate their responsibilities.
Working for employers who gave me the responsibility and freedom to make my own decisions definitely relates to the way I manage people today. I would not like to come to a job knowing that my input is not wanted.
Attracting employees has been harder for us with the development of the Marcellus Shale, an area in the Appalachian Basin that contains large natural gas reserves. Our pay scale had to rise significantly, and we have had to look outside the area to find good people with cow skills.
Our Hispanic labor has been very good for us. We like to think we provide a nice atmosphere where they can excel in their jobs, which has made it easy to retain good workers. We have a waiting list of possible milkers, and that tells me that we are doing something right.
Competitive wages are a big factor in motivating employees. I believe that a happy and productive employee is one who has input into the job he or she is doing, and, most importantly, is not micromanaged every minute of the day. We take a sincere interest in our employees’ families, celebrating birthdays and holidays.
We have quarterly training sessions with the milkers and take them to sessions to improve calf management, the way they deal with calving difficulties and heat detection. The cow people go to management seminars, computer training and professional development meetings. Most of the training has been hands-on, one-on-one, with the experienced employees. I have trained many during calving difficulties in the early-morning hours, but it sure has paid off. Having a colostrum-filled, live calf with fewer phone calls during the night is a great thing.
We are always trying to make sure everybody has the right training to do their job. We have found that an AI refresher course for all new employees, no matter how good they think they are, is very important. The milker meetings remind everybody why it is so important to follow our milking procedure, and why we must follow the same procedure every day.
Our farm, like many others, experiences procedural drift. It is a good time to remind the milkers why we process the baby calves the way we do and explain why our low death loss is so important to our farm. We always like to end a session by talking about how our employees are helping us achieve our goals on the farm and how important they are to our operation.
Gorrell's March Prices
|Milk (3.24% bf, 3.07% prt)
|Alfalfa hay (milk cow)