Organization of work in a weekly rhythm: tasks, protocols, motivation

The magazine “Milk and Farm” in the May issue published the article by Fedir Roshka the CEO of the company “Moloko Vitchyzny”.


He shared with the readers his experience in organizing farm work and the secrets of building an efficient and coherent team.

WHENE’ER companions don’t agree,
They work without accord;

And naught but trouble doth result,
Although they all work hard.


“Swan, Pike and Cancer” by Leonid Glibov

Ultimate common goal

Who doesn’t know this Leonid Glibov fable? The main characters could be a veterinarian, zootechnician, agronomist, engineer or owner – on each farm there could be characters and it is very unfortunate if the situation in the economy is, as in the famous allegorical work.

As in any team, our team also has controversies or misunderstandings, but we have learned to minimize them. How? First of all, we make sure that all the participants in the production process have a clear understanding of the end goal, and without good communication at all levels – from the director to the ordinary employee – there is no other way to do it.

Lets take animal vaccination. What is it good for? Because this is the next task on the vet plan or to prevent illness? Yes, but not exactly. We do the vaccinations mainly to get milk. The reasons and consequences of an irresponsible approach to vaccination are discussed both at the general team meetings and during discussions with individual employees. Another example, if the tractor driver gave the cows less feed than normal, then the person who is in charge of feeding will definitely explain to him how this will affect the overall milk production and farm performance.

I would like to emphasize: every employee must know why they are doing some work. Of course, reaching the target is the responsibility of the farm director or manager, but make sure that everyone understands and feels involved. In addition, people should be aware of the limitations / constraints on the way to the goal. Then they will not have unrealistic expectations, which can lead to complaints and frustration. Besides, set specific goals for each employee. This contributes to the continuous improvement and strengthening of employees’ morale.

Standard operating procedures

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The average dairy productivity on US farms is 40-45 kg of milk per cow per day, but most of workers do not have a full secondary education. What’s the secret? You can write good instructions / protocols, but you do not get the desired result. Let’s try to understand. Previously, we wrote instructions in  details, printed out, and attached them to a bulletin board for staff to read. It worked, but not in the way we exactly wanted. Over time, I realized that the instruction or protocol should be as simple as possible, short and capitalized. There are fewer unnecessary instructions and more basic parameters, such as colostrum temperature, when to drink, how to tag, how to report, etc.

The farm experience only confirmed this conclusion. One day, an artificial insemination technician was hired. As usual, he was taught in good faith, told in details how cows are fertilized, how hormones work, etc. We spent a lot of time on this. Another man was simply shown how to inseminate, what inventory to use. The results of the training were the same, but in the first case it was necessary to spend much more time and tell a lot of extra information.

Develop simple protocols. Illustrate them where possible. Before writing another protocol, imagine that employees are very busy and have no more than three minutes to read it. Try to put all the information on one page.

Organization of work

It is easier to work when to break down a difficult and complex process into separate, simpler parts (by Sergey Chizhik ).

The employee must understand what he is responsible for, to whom he is responsible and how to interact with other members of the team. In our case, this was extremely important, because it was necessary to “synchronize” the work of the three farms.

We have formed a single engineering department that visits production sites in the planned days. One mechanic maintains tractors on three farms. We have one team of veterinarians who serve farms under separate protocols. For example, everyone knows that the farm manager groups the heifers every Tuesday and the veterinarians and artificial insemination technicians at that time inseminate or vaccinate them. We have one animal comfort department for three production sites.

Orthopedists' work schedule in a weekly rhythm

Monday, Farm № 1 
5-00, 8-00hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)
8-00 breakfast
8-30, 9-30 hoof bath for dry cows
9-30, 12-00 treatment in the problem group
12-00 lunch
12-30, 16-30 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)
16-30 cleaning of the workplace
Tuesday, Farm № 1 (Week 1)
5-00, 8-00 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation +
beginning of the dry period)
8-00 breakfast
9-00, 12-00hoof cleaning (heifers)
12-00 lunch
12-00, 16-30 treatment (dry cows)
16-30 cleaning of the workplace
Tuesday, Farm №1 (Week 2)
5-00, 9-00 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)
9-00, 12-00 treatment
13-00 16-00 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)
Wednesday, Farm № 3 (Week 1)
8-00, 12-30hoof cleaning ( beginning of the dry period + heifers)
12-30lunch
13-00, 16-00 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)
Wednesday, Farm № 3 (Week2)
8-00, 12-30 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation + treatment)
12-30lunch
13-00, 16-00 hoof cleaning(120 days of lactation + treatment)
Thursday, Farm № 2 (Week 1)
5-00, 8-00 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)
8-00treatment
12-00lunch
13-00 hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)
Thursday, Farm №2 (Week 2)
5-00, 9-00 hoof cleaning ( beginning of the dry period +
120 days of lactation)
9-00 hoof cleaning (heifers)
12-00lunch
13-00hoof cleaning (120 days of lactation)

Teamwork

The coordinated work of the team –  is the key to  success of the dairy farm. Is a veterinarian involved in the harversting of feed? Does he check the quality of beveled alfalfa in the field? Is an artificial insemination technician should be present during an ultra sound diagnostics of vet? Yes! All farm workers are members of the same team. Our ultimate goal is –  to get milk. And if the vet checks the quality of the feed near the trench, it is very good, but at this time someone has to do his job. You need to schedule in advance.

It is important to find the right job for the employee, and also to group employees for a specific job according to their abilities.

Speaking about the team, I would like to quote Valeriy Lobanovskiy: “I do not need a star team. I need a  team like a star. ” And indeed, if you have a solid team, there will be a stellar result. If everyone in their place is white and fluffy, but the work is uneven, the result will not be at all.

I noticed that when a person achieves high results (in our case – this is the quantaty of milk per a cow), he involuntarily begins to think that he already knows everything, ceases to grow professionally. You can not stop your development.

I also advise  to monitor the relationships between employees of different generations, especially when senior employees are required to follow the instructions of the younger ones. They can resist and even neglect colleagues. Make sure,that the young specialist can accomplish the task. At our enterprise, at first personally, myself or one of the assistants who have enough authority, perform some tasks together with a young colleague. There can be no other way. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time and nerves, lose a prospective employee, and ultimately, you will not reach the goal.

For us, the team comes first, because it’s like a family. The new team member must live by its rules.

Everything starts with the owner or manager of the company. We are all human beings, and if you are treated like a fool, you do not want to work, and when the owner hears you, understands and supports you, then I treat my subordinates accordingly. Everything in life is interconnected.

Features of the farm

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Each farm has its own specifics and they must be taken into account. We have three dairy complexes, each with its own peculiarities. For example, the work schedule of employees. One of our production sites is located only 10 km from Sumy. To attract locals to work on a dairy farm, you have to work hard.

The required number of employees, schedules, protocols, etc. – all these needs to be understood and based on each production.

Valuable time

Don’t waste your time. Time is money. It is always lacking on the farm because everybody wants to have more time. How are we doing on our farms? On one of the farms I noted, that the veterinarian spends a lot of time moving from the pharmacy to the barn, and generally moving around the farm, some cases remained for the next day. Provided the veterinarian with transport (bicycle!), after that he began to have more time to deal with everything. It seems like a trifle, and there are plenty of moments where you can optimize your work.

We value each employee’s time, so we do not hold daily morning or evening meetings, for example. The heads of the divisions meet at noon, with a cup of coffee to discuss what to do for a better result, or plan next week’s activities.

Priority of tasks

At our company, we have determined that the main process is milking, and all the other processes rotate around it. This means that milking time is at the heart of organizing a work schedule. Of course, this applies to farms with unrestrained hold systems. Under the milking schedule, we arrange all other farm work: animal comfort, veterinary care, feeding, and more. The main goal is to feed the cow as much as possible so that it gives more milk. It would seem simple things, but they are not easy – through practice, experience, sometimes through mistakes.

Appreciation, motivation and recruitment

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There are many different methods for evaluating and motivating dairy farm workers. Someone uses a point grade, and the salary is accrued accordingly. We work in a weekly rhythm, we start daily at 4am, every day consists of some tasks, so everything is simple: the employee receives a salary for the work he did. If he wants to get more, he has to work harder. If he needs training – we will help and teach him. More experienced employees train less experienced or newcomers, several times showing how to accomplish the task. If a person fails, then we look for another candidate.

We are very meticulous about managers. We have pecific requirements for farm managers, they should understand how production works: who, what, how much, when. We do not hire people on someone’s recommendation, but we conduct interviews and questionnaires. Most employees are about 30 on the farm.

We work closely with Sumy Agrarian University. On the basis of our economy, students are practicing. Future specialists get acquainted with modern production, hone practical skills, and we, from the other side, look to potential employees. Today we have a reserve of young staff who will be invited to work.

Control and analysis of work

You can make a perfect plan and set clear goals, but what happens next is the most important moment. And to understand this, control is needed. Our units report on their work on a monthly basis. Formal replies are not accepted.

There are departments where this process is easier. For example, in the purchasing department everything is clear: plan, purchases, costs. The report of the Deputy Director-General for Feeding, Comfort and Growing  Yulia Rudenko  is somewhat more complex. It includes a schedule of planned and actual costs for the three farms. There must be an explanation as to why, for example, they spent more / less than planned: they planned to feed 100 tons of meal and the animals ate less; they planned to buy it at one price, but it turned out to be cheaper or, on the contrary, more expensive. The report must be clear and truthful. Based on information from the units, a general farm report is prepared. With this kind of data, you understand how to work further, what direction to move, and what to spend money on. This is very helpful in shaping the budget for next year – we are developing it in November.

In addition, periodically heads of departments monitor the quality of work performed by subordinates on the farm. So they need to know and understand all the processes in their production sites.

Finally, concerted action in combination with IT, a team that is programmed for results, the desire to grow  himself and develop the company and the country you live in, –  is the secret of success of a modern dairy farm. These are not just words, they have to become your life.

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