A difficult adjustment

September 20, 2009 07:00 PM
 

*Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Kevin Phillips
Waynesboro, Va.
Staffing has been a real challenge for us. Since we started a second dairy, we have had to switch from functioning as a family operation to treating it more like a business when it comes to our employees.

We have had to develop job descriptions, take time for training, and motivate and encourage our employees to do the job the way we want it done. I don't have much patience with personnel and the operation is hardly large enough for me to hire a personnel manager.

One positive aspect of the economy right now is the large amount of labor available. From this standpoint, it is nice to be able to be selective. We try to hire on a part-time basis to start; then within a few weeks we know if it is a good match or we need to look for someone else. We try to hire by word of mouth. Once milkers become full-time, they are provided on-farm housing. Farm laborers are not provided housing.

We are working on an incentive plan to reward milkers and herdsmen for quality, attitude, efficiency and following protocol (measured by our computer data). This has been a challenge to develop for each individual employee. The hiring, developing and training have been the hardest part of our expansion because we as a family have always handled the work ourselves.

More and more, we are managing people instead of cattle.

Phillips' July Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.0% prt): $12.38cwt. (gross)
Cull cows: $40/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,200/head
Alfalfa hay: $150/ton
Cottonseed: $240/ton
Ground corn:  $170/ton
Soybean meal (48%): $390/ton








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