Razas de caballos: Mustang

Four steps to achieving performance goals on the farm

Measuring, recording and posting performance data can enable the whole team to achieve improvements on the farm.

Let’s look at a real example from a well-organized dairy farm that the Michigan State University ExtensionDairy Team visited during a recent trip and see how the steps apply. In order to track progress, a goal has to be measureable. In this case, blood serum protein levels on calves would tell the story of effective transfer of maternal antibodies to the calf through the colostrum. Here are the steps this producer established:
Step 1. Set a Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
The KPI was serum protein greater than or equal to 5.5 g/dL. Every calf was sampled. A speadsheet listed the calf birth date, sampling date and serum protein level.
In this case, the KPI was a standard determined by research and accepted as being achievable and relevant. Other KPI’s, such as somatic cell count (SCC) or milking time or pregnancy rate, can be established to meet the specific goal you are interested in achieving.
Step 2. Make the KPI known and train to it.
Employees were told about the goal, the spreadsheet was posted and they were told what affected the serum protein level of the calves.
If employee performance impacts the measure, then they need to understand fully not only what to do but why those practices are important in reaching the KPI.
Step 3. Measure against the KPI and hold people accountable.
Every time an employee fed a calf on this farm, they had to sign for it. The same worksheet that listed the calf birth, blood sample date and serum protein level also listed who fed the calf. A manager calculated calf serum protein averages by the employees and listed those. In this case, the calves fed by Jaime averaged 6.0 while the calves fed by Ben averaged 5.3.
In addition, serum protein levels were averaged by the week and year-to-date. The percentage of calves that attained the KPI was also updated weekly. These each tell a story. While the weekly average and the year-to-date average were both greater than 5.6, only 55 percent of calves had attained the KPI level. Obviously, there were still some weak points in the program.
Step 4. Determine what is keeping you from the goal and reduce the barriers.
Just tracking a goal doesn’t make you achieve it, but it can help point to the places where there are failures that prevent you from attaining it regularly. Is there something that Ben is not doing right? Is there a problem with colostrum quality that needs to be solved? Are their standards for colostrum quality high enough?
Before we blame the employees, we need to understand what exactly are the limiting factors to achieving the KPI. It may be that we have to go back to our dry cow program and look at our vaccination plan or nutrition. It may be that our fresh cow protocol does not get cows milked soon enough to yield the highest quality colostrum. Having better information enables you to make better decisions and points the way to solving the problem.
Compare that to just recording that the calves aren’t doing well, but not knowing why that is the case. In situations like that, some producers may blame the weather, change the feeds or blame the employees, all of which tend to be unproductive responses that do not improve the situation.
Productive management involves 1) Setting KPI’s, 2) Making sure that everyone involved knows what they are and their part in achieving them, 3) Measuring the results and holding people accountable to them, and 4) Determining the barriers to achieving the goals consistently.
Why not implement that in at least one area of your operation this week!

Razas - Borregos Suffolk

The farm tech we take for granted?

Last week I got the chance for an early look at the new Genesis T8 tractor that we showed Farm Industry Newsreaders in depth in an online gallery. Last weekend I was explaining a bit of farm tech to my wife and it occurred to me that I just assume these days that some tech has to be there on a new piece of equipment.
The tech I'm thinking about is that end-row management system - they go by many names - that end the days of the multi-handed process of idling back the tractor, shutting off a PTO, raising an implement all before you are ready to turn to head up the next row - then do the same process in reverse. Today that multi-step process is most often handled with the flip of a switch or the push of a button.
That got me thinking about what other tech we may someday take for granted. I already expect to have access to great mapping software on my smart phone (an iPhone thank you). I also like that Bluetooth capability available in my car. Are we expecting these things in the tractor cab now too? These are little things. I'm sure there are much bigger things you now just expect to have when you sit in the cab of a new machine.
It's fair to wonder about tablet connectivity (which most manufacturers are mentioning) to help end monitor proliferation. Or enhanced single-system controls to manage a machine in the field, that we've come to be used to. The single-handle, all-at-your-fingertips isn't as special as it once was because today we expect it.
The drive-by-wire systems we rely on today give engineers a lot of room to wiggle as they figure out how best to deliver optimum operating speeds and torque for you in the field. They're also more able to manage the engine economy than ever before, too. Add in the engine control systems that deliver fuel so precisely it's almost impossible to kill a diesel and you can imagine what might be happening next.
Of course we'll probably take that for granted too.

Razas de borregos: Suffolk

Algas: un gran potencial para la producción sustentable

Algas: un gran potencial para la producción sustentable
Las algas son los organismos de crecimiento más rápido existentes en la naturaleza. Algunos tipos de algas convierten  grandes cantidades de dióxido de carbono en oxígeno, una característica que las hace especialmente interesantes en términos de conservación del medio ambiente. Cerca de 70% del oxígeno de nuestra atmósfera, es proveniente de las algas, cantidad superior a la producida por todos los bosques y campos juntos.
Para la producción de otros tipos de algas podemos utilizar otras fuentes de glucosa. El proceso de fermentación en estado sólido (Solid State Fermentation – SSF) puede descomponer el forraje ó maíz en el COnecesario para las algas.  El proceso SSF consiste en permitir a los micro-organismos como los hongos que se reproduzcan en cultivos para que liberen los nutrientes que a su vez puedan mejorar la salud del animal.
Las algas presentan un gran potencial para la producción sustentable. Las granjas “verdes”, por ejemplo, requieren que los combustibles de alto valor o los alimentos animales sean producidos de forma en que los residuos y la producción de CO2  se reduzcan drásticamente y que al mismo tiempo se esté creando una máxima oportunidad de obtener ingresos a partir de los productos agrícolas y del apoyo al empleo.
La planta de fermentación de algas de Alltech, ubicada en Winchester, Kentucky,  en E.E.U.U., es una de las más grandes del mundo y está equipada con tecnologías de última generación.


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