Our recently launched Driving Dairy discussion group has proved to be a great way of hearing from many of you about how to optimise the day to day management of your herds, the people who look after them and how you deal with the challenges every day brings. One thing many people highlighted as something we all strive to improve on was team work and communication on farm. Sometimes we think that it’s just a case of jumping straight in to sort out the calving, broken feeder wagon, treating that cow with mastitis, but we all know there’s a lot of effort required to make the whole machine work effectively and efficiently.
We’ve summarised some top tips for communication on farm and teamwork in the handy COWS acronym.
Communication on farm – use COWS:
Providing a clear outline of what is expected of our team members makes it easier to ensure all jobs required are done and everyone finishes the day with a sense of satisfaction. Clear job descriptions really help with this and provide a framework to refer back to for reviews and to help with development.
Allowing team members to take ownership of certain areas can reveal potential and skills that can improve both health and performance. We often find this with youngstock rearing. Having someone take ownership of the calf rearing and challenge the whole team to ensure good colostrum transfer, cleanliness and hygiene can transform the rearing process. Although delegating the ownership can be worrying at first, given regular review and support, people and performance can flourish.
“Protocols protect people”. This sums up the reason we have protocols in place. By all agreeing on a protocol, take mastitis for example, we can ensure that we all do the same thing. If we then find that it doesn’t work it’s the protocol that we review and change as opposed to guessing or placing blame when it isn’t necessary. It’s a really useful way of refining what we do, ensuring we treat as effectively as possible and minimise costs and waste.
Summarising any changes that you make and communicating them multiple times in multiple ways should ensure that the message gets across clearly to everyone. It also gives people an opportunity to provide input or feedback. For example, summarising the changes made to a calf feeding plan ensures that there’s an opportunity for everyone to ask just how many scoops of calf powder we need or even ask why we’ve made changes in the first place.
Communication is a never ending learning exercise and just as we think we’ve got it right we have to go again. Putting simple measures in place though, such as job descriptions, protocols and review meetings can build a solid foundation for any team. Not only that but it can tick a lot of boxes for both Red Tractor and aligned contract requirements. Hopefully these tips are just a reminder of what we already do but if you’d like any help or suggestions feel free to give us a call. Don’t forget that AHDB has a wealth of resources that can help too.
If you’re interested in joining our next Driving Dairy meeting, please email email@example.com or give Hannah a call on 07841919227. You’ll get a bodywarmer or overalls!