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  • Writer's pictureDr. Aaron

Goals and Resolutions

Today’s technology has given us the ability to collect an almost infinite amount of data daily. Looking at all this data can be overwhelming and can sometimes cause us to miss the forest for all the trees. However, goals can give us focus and bring us back to those key performance indicators (KPIs) we should monitor so that we don’t miss the bigger picture. As 2019 ends and we prepare to start a new decade, there may not be a better time than now to discuss goals and the process of setting them.

If you have never set goals for your operation, start by setting goals for two to three KPIs that are going to make the biggest difference on your bottom line. Choosing more than that can be overwhelming. Depending on your operation’s strengths and weaknesses, the KPIs you choose to monitor and the goals you set for them may be different than your neighbor’s; that’s okay–this is about your operation.

When you start writing your goals, it is recommended that they fit the acronym SWAT.

  • They should be SPECIFIC. For example, maybe you want to improve the average daily gain of your calves at weaning to 1.9 lbs/day. Write that down, then detail how you are going to get there. Are you going to start monitoring colostrum quality and feeding? Maybe you will start adding solids to non-saleable milk to provide a consistent diet each day? Or, maybe you will add another feeding of milk? No matter what actions you decide to take to achieve your goals, write them down. This allows you to evaluate and see whether you have implemented each of the steps that you set forth to achieve the desired goals.

  • Goals should also have a WHY behind them. Perhaps your goal is to decrease the percentage of fresh cows with metritis to 7%. Why does this matter? Cows that experience metritis will produce less milk, have a depression in fertility, and an increased risk of culling during the first 60 days in milk. This adds up to around $350 per case of metritis. Write this “why” down so that when your team loses its focus you all can be reminded of the reason that this goal is important.

  • You need to be ACCOUNTABLE to someone to see your goals through. Depending on the management of your dairy, this may be your family, your partners, or your management team. I would also recommend that you get your nutritionist, veterinarian, reproductive specialist, and/or other knowledge area experts involved. They can both hold you accountable and help you identify steps to achieve your goals.

  • Develop a TIMELINE for your goals. You are not going to be able to implement all the changes needed to achieve your goals on the day you develop your goals. So, when are you going to have the action items completed? Be realistic with this. Change takes time. Once you develop your timeline, give it to those that are holding you accountable so that they can help you make sure you stay on track.

Setting and achieving goals does take time and energy, but you only get out of it what you put into it. Lay aside time each week to focus on your goals. Depending on where you are at in the goal process, the amount of time needed each week will vary. Developing your goals will take significant time, but as you progress farther down the timeline, it will take less and less time. The hardest part is starting. Don’t expect more until you do more. Start today.

This article appeared in The Dairy Dispatch by Kansas Dairy

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