Sept. 20 2017 08:00 AM

There are some aspects of a dairy that robots can’t replace.

With all the talk about the short supply of labor and the rise of new technology to replace people, I feel that it is important to shine a light on the great aspects of having employees. There are a lot of things robots can do better and more consistently than humans, but there are still some aspects of the dairy that require a human touch.

One of the most important parts of a dairyman’s character is empathy. Empathy for each other and empathy for the animals. It is hard to wake up in the morning when you have not slept all night but you do anyway because there are animals counting on you.

This empathy lives in the best employees. An empathetic employee may not always make decisions based on logic but on gut instinct and past experience. For example, how many times have you invented a contraption or a treatment to save an animal that would have otherwise died based on the facts at hand? These feelings of hope and thoughts of ingenuity are what set the best employees apart from the rest.

Accountability is another aspect of my every day that employees bring to the table. I am no superhero. I do not remember everything and I may slack off at times, but my employees keep me on track. As I guide them in the tasks of the day, they do the same for me. We work as a team and keep each other accountable for the tasks at hand.

It is nice to have that camaraderie working alongside of you as the day progresses. Workdays are not always the same length or as easy as the last but it is nice to know that I have employees that are willing to go the extra mile with me.

Now don’t think that I have the perfect crew and that everything is roses and unicorns over here. Like a lot of dairies, labor has been a real struggle for us. We have had our fair share of incompetent and lazy employees, as well as those who have cost us our sanity. Retaining good employees is the single most stressful part of my job. But when we are all working together as a team, it can be the single most enjoyable part of the day.

Tyler Ribeiro

Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently partners with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.