Family owned and operated, Soaring Eagle Dairy milks 1,100 cows and grows the majority of the herd’s feed on 1,800 acres.
Having a strong group of employees in place makes managing a farm so much easier. My sister, who happens to be our herdsman, often says, "I’d rather manage 1,000 cows than 20 people any day."
Getting to a place where everyone is happy and performing well is not easy and takes an on-going commitment of time and attention. The following are a few principles that guide me in my people management:
The Golden Rule. Treating people like you would like to be treated is paramount in ensuring that folks are willing to do what you ask of them. Currently, our non-family employees total about 20 and the average employee has been with us over seven years. At this point, many of them are family. Our people know that if they need help with anything on or off farm, they can come to us for help.
Hire for attitude, not aptitude. Folks who have a desire to work hard, are trustworthy and want to be part of a successful operation will succeed in just about anything they do. Finding people with these traits can be difficult but, once you do, they can be trained to do the jobs required. Just because someone hasn’t milked a cow or driven a semi doesn’t mean they can’t. All that’s needed is time, training and patience.
Be present and have fun. With six family members on the farm full-time, employees definitely have a chance to connect with us, and we have an opportunity to make sure there is no drifting from protocols. Employees have seen us working side-by-side with them - even the not-so-fun jobs like covering a bunker, picking rocks and pitching sand out of freestalls. Regardless of the job at hand, have fun! We spend too many hours at work not to enjoy what we do.
There seem to be fewer and fewer people interested in working in agriculture. When we do have an opening, we rely on word of mouth, Facebook and the newspaper to find new recruits. I’m currently two months into a search for a member of my cropping and maintenance team. I can tell you it’s much easier to keep existing good employees than it is to find new ones.
Maurer’s recent prices
$23.40 (3.43 bf, 3.0 prt)
Alfalfa hay (milk cow)