Training Is a Must

September 11, 2012 08:40 PM


LarryHancockLarry Hancock

Muleshoe, Texas

A dairy pioneer on the Texas High Plains, Prairie View Dairy milks 4,200 Holsteins.




**Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Prairie View Dairy has been in Muleshoe, Texas, for a long time, since 1978, and we had the opportunity to watch the dairy industry grow tremendously. That said, dairying is experiencing some tough times right now. Friends and neighbors who have worked their whole adult lives in the field they love are leaving the business, and we realize efficiency in every area, including staffing, is vital to be able to continue.

We are probably very similar to most dairy farms: part of the staff has been with us for a long time (a few more than 20 years), and some seem to come and go. Over the years, we have tried many different types of incentives and development tactics to get and keep the best employees possible.

Our area is small-town and very rural. Most of the people who come looking for work are locals who have heard from family or friends that we keep a hiring list and are a good company to work for.

We try to keep up with the cost of living and pay a fair wage for a fair day’s work. We strive to keep our shifts at an eight-hour day with a meal break.

Of course, weather is always a challenge, but we can usually stay close to that eight-hour-per-day number. Along with the monthly wage, we have a paid vacation (one or two weeks depending on how long the employee has been working here), a paid missed-day policy, bonus incentives tied to quality control, and an end-of-the-year bonus (again, depending on how long the employee has been working at Prairie View Dairy). Our newest incentive is a retirement plan for any of the employees who choose to participate.

Training is a must, and we have an ongoing program. Our inside workers are trained by their senior shift person they work with. The barn supervisor monitors new employees and corrects any problems that may arise.

We have found that starting, monitoring and reteaching milking techniques the proper way increases milk pro-duction and helps with herd health in the long run. Our outside help is trained by the supervisor in that area.

Safety regulations, feeding procedures, herd health routines and other areas are addressed on a regular basis so that everyone is on the same page and can fill in for one another as needed.

We are blessed to have an Extension office here in Muleshoe that is interested in dairying and will help with continuing education workshops and training on a regular basis. We also work directly with our veterinarian service to provide more specific training for our herd’s health and techniques to be used to ensure the best possible care for our herd.

Lastly, we promote from in-house. Almost all of our supervisors and managers started as milkers or outside help (including myself) and worked their way up to a position of authority on the dairy.

We have found that allowing good employees to move up the ladder has led to a better understanding of the dairy and our goals. It allows those who have a vested interest in the business to make the major decisions that affect the future of the dairy.

If we want to continue to produce a natural, nutritious, delicious product in these tough times, attracting, motivating, training and retaining the best employees possible is a must.


Hancock's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.53% bf, 3.00% prt) $14.83/cwt.
Cull cows $84/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,400/head
Bull calves $40/head
Alfalfa hay (new crop) $245 to $290/ton
Cottonseed $335/ton
Cottonseed meal $245/ton (contracted)
Ground corn $335/ton (delivered)


Back to news



Spell Check

No comments have been posted to this News Article

Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer