Growing dairies are healthy dairies in more ways than just financially

Profitable businesses often see advantages in growth as they attempt to capitalize on economies of scale, and cope with tighter margins. Dairy farms are no exception to this rule, but there are additional reasons for growth that may surprise you.

Healthy profitable businesses often grow their business in order to continue to be profitable. Growth can help achieve economies of scale and it also can help a business cope with ever tightening margins. On a recent trip to western New Your with fellow Dairy Educator Phil Durst, we talked with Willow Bend Farm Owner John Mueller and Tucker Coryn, his herdsman, and discovered another important benefit of business growth, keeping good employees.

Willow Bend farm currently milks over 2,500 cows at two locations. The Willow Bend farm started in 1957 under the ownership of George Mueller, John’s father. Starting with 100 cows, the farm has gone through several major expansion phases, and continues to be in sustained growth.

Often times when we think about expanding a dairy farm, we think about the challenges we are going to experience in finding quality employees. That may be true for some farms, but we also need to consider the great employees that we already have on the farm.

Growing dairy farms can provide additional opportunities for their key employees. Change that results from a growing business can be very exciting for employees to be involved in. They see that they are part of a successful business that is going places.

John Mueller put it this way, “As long as you can grow, and provide opportunities for your employees to grow into, your best players stay.”

Employees need to feel that the job they have is not a dead end job. Good employees want to know that they are contributing to the success of the farm, and a growing farm is generally associated with being a successful farm.

Tucker summed it up by saying “I feel so lucky to have ended up working for a business that is so progressive.”

Having employees that are excited about their employment on your farm, excited about new opportunities for personal growth, and generally excited about being involved in the dairy industry has another benefit as well. Engaged, excited employees are contagious and it may just lead to better success in finding those key employees to bring in to your growing team.

A growing dairy means that there will be opportunities for some employees to take on more managerial responsibilities, opportunities to train new employees and opportunities to work with newer facilities. These types of opportunities create greater loyalty and growth among your employees. Employees know that they are contributing to the success of the business, a business in which they take pride.

You can learn more about keeping employees engaged in the farm, at the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Dairy Team winter meetings Feb. 20-24. For more information and to register see the online registration form.

To view a podcast with more information visit Dairy Moosings.

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