Our Labor Force Is Key

September 7, 2011 08:23 PM

DonaldVanHofwegenDonald Van Hofwegen

Stanfield, Ariz.
Donald and Ingrid Van Hofwegen milk 2,700 Holsteins in central Arizona.



*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.


When I think about the labor force on our dairy, I see it as a key component in the success of our operation.

Come hear Donald Von Hofwegan speak at the 2011 Elite Producer Business Conference.

When I started out on my own, I used to talk to my dad about different things going on at the dairy. I would mention my employees and issues I was dealing with, and he would always say, "I never had any employee problems." Well, the reason for that is he had four sons who did everything, and we had to make sure the work was done before we could go anywhere. With larger and more complex operations these days, it takes a larger crew to take care of the daily needs on the dairy.

We have a fairly good network of employees in our area. All the hiring is done by the manager. He keeps a list of people applying for jobs and what positions they are interested in. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of turnover on the dairy. I believe this is because I try to create a comfortable environment for people to work in.

We do, however, have a new person once in a while, and he needs to be trained. This is done by giving specific instructions about what he is responsible for. He then spends several days working side by side with another employee. He is then allowed to go on his own with the oversight of the shift lead. The dairy manager is always checking in with the shift lead to make sure the transition is going smoothly.

Motivation is important on the dairy because I want the most out of my employees every day, every shift. I do this by being present and jumping in and showing the guys that I can and will do their job if needed. I show them respect and try and have them understand we are in this together. This has worked for me since I have been in the business on my own. It may not be the most scientific way, but I base my decisions on results.

I have heard it said that if you have employees, then you have employee problems. I can’t necessarily disagree with that. However, I enjoy going outside and working side-by-side with my guys and getting a job done.


Van Hofwegens' August Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.27% prt) $21.87/cwt. quota
$20.80/cwt. over quota
Cull cows $68/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,500/head
Summer hay $220/ton
Rolled corn $320/ton
Cottonseed $325/ton


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