Improvement & Evolution
1 May 2018
All types of businesses require continuous improvement to remain competitive, profitable and sustainable. There are several ways businesses can continuously improve such as: growing, adopting technology, training their employees or even diversifying.
The current trends in the dairy industry point to a decrease in the number of farms, farms becoming bigger, and more milk per cow, regardless of which Canadian province you live in. Therefore, what are dairy producers doing to continuously improve? Many adopt equipment with advanced technology to boost labour productivity, increase milk production, and improve cow health and longevity. We have also observed significant improvement in plant genetics.
With regard to technology, over the past couple of years we have seen a large number of producers investing in Automatic Milking Systems (AMS) to lower labour costs and allow the cow to be herself. Non-AMS herds are implementing “Precision Management Tools” such as activity monitors, rumination, and mastitis detection. One of the farms we visited in Mexico has installed the AFI milk system. This system records milk yield, milk fat and protein percentage, somatic cell count (SCC), and body weight at every milking. The data generated allows the farm to monitor estrus, health and performance to ensure every cow is as profitable as possible. In addition, the data collected allows for informed management decisions and a method for tracking the impact of any decision
Another good example is in the field of forage quality, where we have seen major gains in genetics, overall quality, and productivity. Brown mid-rib corn is an example where improvement in digestibility has resulted in higher dry matter intakes (DMI) and milk production. Additionally, low-lignin alfalfa has recently entered the market where the alfalfa can be harvested 5–10 days later, improving yield per cutting without compromising digestibility and milk production. This allows the producer to harvest one less cutting per year.
TRAINING & EXPERTISE
An area for improvement which we often overlook yet critical to the success of your dairy business is employee training. For your dairy operation to continuously improve, your employees must also continuously improve. When we stop learning, we stop growing. However, we can achieve this by establishing development plans and providing annual training. Training and continuous improvement of employees, especially our Dairy Nutrition Advisors, is at the core of Trouw Nutrition/Shur-Gain’s value proposition. This is why, in 2002, we developed the Dairy Nutrition Advisor Training and Certification Program (DNA). Our DNA program combines online training, classroom training, workshops and on-farm certification. It includes modules on the biological functions of the cow, reviewing record information of the dairy, and effective on-farm observation skills. The goal of the DNA program is to have the best-trained and skilled people supporting your farm. Once people are certified, the continuous improvement does not stop there. Our Dairy Nutrition Advisors continue to attend various seminars and workshops to broaden their knowledge and skills.
By training our Dairy Nutrition Advisors, we also help your dairy to continuously improve. How does training our people benefit you? Our training ensures your Dairy Nutrition Advisor is equipped with the knowledge to
identify areas of opportunity for your operation as well as the ability to provide recommendations and strategies
to seize these opportunities, resulting in improved performance, animal health, and higher profitability, which allows the dairy to be sustainable.