5 people-management tips from a 20,000 cow US dairy

In 2002, Mitch Davis diversified into dairying to help secure milk supply for his family’s multimillion-dollar cheese company Davisco Foods International.

He is now managing Davis Family Dairies in Minnesota, US, which comprises three units alongside a youngstock site in Texas altogether totalling 20,000 Jersey animals.

They produce 60,000 gallons (272,765 litres) of milk daily with all feed purchased from neighbouring crop farms at a cost of $24m/year (£18m/year).

See also: 3,600-head US dairy sees yields lift with robotic milking system

The dairy enterprise employs more than 140 people.

Speaking at the Kite Conference last week, Mr Davis shared his tips on managing people within and outside your business:

  1. Be prepared for bad news. How you deal with it will affect how your employees react and they may be reluctant to approach you again if you don’t react well. Most of the time your employees will be coming to you for solutions and solving them will build confidence within your team.
  2. Respect the fact your employees don’t have ownership of the business and may not have the same incentive to make it work as you do. But that shouldn’t make them any less of the team. Find out what makes them tick, reward them accordingly and provide an opportunity for them to grow.
  3. Tackle activists head-on. Engage in dialogue with them and tell them why you do what you do. People may not agree with it but at least they know why you do it and that you agree with your practices and sometimes that’s all you can do.
  4. Make your children work for someone else before they return home to the family business and get them to start at the bottom and work their way up to earn respect.
  5. Build relationships with everyone around you (processor, staff, banker). It is the best thing you can do for your business.

Webinars on demand

Several Farmers Weekly webinars are available to view including topics such as Agribanking, Succession and Tax, OSR yields and more.
Watch now