MANAGEMENT & PLANNING MUST BE PRIORITIES
SUCCESSFUL dairy farm managers dont just focus on margins over feed and making good silage, they must manage people and resources well, Axient consultant Neil Adams told visitors to an open day at John Helliars, High House Farm near Warminster, Wilts.
Mr Helliar spends a reasonable amount of time planning and forecasting, he said. This has seen his farming enterprise on the Longleat Estate expand from 73ha (180 acres) and 150 cows to 162ha (400 acres) and 240 cows in less than 10 years.
"Producers must find the time to plan, getting out of the day to day routine and looking at where your business is going.
"Then monitor how well things are going against your plan, by checking milk quality or margin over concentrate as necessary. Dont wait until you get your farm accounts back, six to eight months after the year end. Its too long to wait and see how your business has performed.
"You also need to be good at organising, commanding and co-ordinating farm staff."
In 10 years, Mr Helliar has had three herdsmen. He has helped them to realise whats important by setting them good, clear targets and they have moved on to better jobs, said Mr Adams.
"Its important to communicate improvements wanted to staff, such as reducing mastitis level, making sure they know their responsibilities and what they need to do to achieve targets set."
He believes the best managers listens to staff, take notice of what they say and then tell them what to do. "Ask yourself whether you are this type of manager or one who doesnt listen, doesnt take any notice and tells staff what to do or if you listen, but take no notice."
There are also differences in the way people make use of their consultants.
"The traditional view of a consultant is how much concentrate to feed and when to cut silage. While that can be important, they can bring other things to a business too."
Producers make better use of a consultant if they are open with them, letting them get involved with the whole business and are open to new ideas. They can help you compare your farm with other similar businesses which will give areas to discuss where improvements can be made, he added. *