In today's dynamic dairy farming landscape, strategic protocol implementation plays a crucial role in a sustainable dairy operation. Effective protocol implementation translates into improved employee retention, enhanced animal performance and health and a workforce that excels at their jobs and thrives in their workplace.
There are three key elements to consider when making an effective protocol training plan: accessibility, transparency and continuous improvement.
Accessible documentation and training
The true power of protocol lies in understanding not only how to perform a task but also the rationale behind the procedure, ultimately fostering a culture of informed decision-making.
Clear documentation of protocols with a thorough explanation of the impact is crucial. What’s more, the documentation must be accessible for team members. This may mean partnering with bilingual resources to help communicate and translate, like through Purina’s Hispanic Employee Training Services program, or using visual aids and hands-on tools. It also means allowing team members a platform to ask questions when they do not understand.
Documenting and explaining protocols and ensuring accessibility of these tools will help all members of your operation begin to understand both the “how” and “why,” forming a foundation for effective protocol implementation.
Intentional and transparent communication
When employees understand how their contributions align with the broader mission and see tangible progress, they can participate in the company's success. It is important for dairy farm leaders to share their business goals.
Tracking goals with simple visual aids, like a whiteboard, can help achieve this. Another opportunity for two-way communication is through evaluations. Through the Purina program, we’ve seen success in the parlor with tracking metrics monthly and reporting out anonymously to employees so they can track their progress. These reports have been a source of empowerment and have been well received.
Proactive communication can be simple to implement and have a huge impact on fostering accountability.
Ongoing support and supervision with purpose
Employee development requires continuous improvement to prevent protocol drift. Purina demonstrates a long-term support approach through the Hispanic Employee Training Services program. They build relationships with employees during weekly meetings, building rapport and ensuring understanding of protocol and goals. This ongoing support has made a difference in overall farm performance and employee experiences.
Fostering accountability and achieving success
One dairy operation in the Midwest used these tactics to improve protocol implementation with Purina’s Hispanic Employee Training Services program. After nine months, the farm’s somatic cell count was reduced from 325,000 – 350,000 to less than 200,000.
The farm also saw a significant decrease in employee turnover since starting the program with only one out of 20 employees leaving the farm in the last 6 months, compared to the initial rate of one to two employees per month.
The bottom line is employees who feel supported are more likely to ask questions, learn new processes and contribute their best to the operation. Investing in employees and an overall protocol program is inextricably linked to the long-term retention of employees, quality of milk and overall success of the operation.
Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (purinamills.com) is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the United States. Driven to unlock the greatest potential in every animal, the company is an industry-leading innovator offering a valued portfolio of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is headquartered in Arden Hills, Minn., and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.