Successful dairies find ways to identify problems and fix them with minimal lag time.
By Rick Lundquist, Ph.D.
It’s a busy time of year on a dairy: finishing up harvests, lots of cows to freshen and to dry up -– lots of stuff to do, but there are always lots of things to do on a dairy farm.
In fact, I was walking around a dairy today and saw lots of stuff that needed to be done. There were many small issues, but there were also a lot of really critical issues that needed to be taken care of right away. I made some notes to give to the manager. But what I saw was just a snapshot. The issues I observed happen all the time on a dairy farm. There are cows that need attention, equipment that needs to be fixed, freestalls that need maintenance, water troughs that need cleaning or floats that need fixing, fans that need cleaning. You name it, the list is long.
I have an annual meeting with a great group of independent consultants from across the country. We discuss what our most successful clients do. The No. 1 attribute of our most successful clients is reducing “lag time.” What we mean by lag time is the time between identifying a problem and fixing that problem.
Most dairies have similar problems to deal with. Some may be specific to geography, climate or size of the dairy. But most of us deal with the same issues, and we can count on the fact that these issues are a part of the dairy business. But the dairies that identify the problems and fix them with minimum lag time will be consistently more successful.
Obviously, we have to prioritize, because there’s never enough time. But successful dairies find a way to make it work. The critical issues need to be addressed first. There should be someone who “owns” the problem or, instead of fixing the problem, there may be just finger-pointing. However you accomplish it on your dairy, minimizing lag time will make your operation more successful.
Rick Lundquist is an independent nutrition and management consultant based in Duluth, Minn. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.