Dairy SA Central Conference

By Dairy News

No change without proper communication

Effective communication is essential for instigating change in business, according to Farm Family Facilitator Judy Wilkinson.

Ms Wilkinson — a consultant specialising in Sustaining Families in Business — has over fifteen years of experience working with agriculture groups and businesses in communication, succession planning and family business meetings and shared some valuable messages at the recent DairySA Central Conference in Hahndorf.

She has seen the success that healthy relationships can have on management and succession.

“Communication has a major impact in our lives — with family, business and community — and there are many elements required to create effective conversations,” she said.

“These include being clear and honest about what you think and feel, being patient and trying not to get angry, avoiding broad negative statements, and understanding that others opinions and feelings are valuable.”

Delegates were challenged to identify the breakdown of communication, with many surprised that it comprises 7 per cent verbal, 38 per cent vocal and 55 per cent visual.

Ms Wilkinson’s presentation centred around facilitating family business meetings and encouraged delegates to recognise that:

■ Change activates emotions

■ Effective change often requires help with people’s expectations, bringing clarity to the table, and using appropriate communication or language style

■ Listening is a key component of negotiation and mediation

■ It’s important to value ALL participants

■ There is a communication hierarchy which builds increasing trust

■ All participants should be encouraged to share their feelings

She highlighted that conflict is normal, resolution is a skill, disconnection needs to be managed, strategic meetings are crucial to outcomes and that it is important to “Get it Right”.

“It’s important to set clear boundaries between business and family which may include simple approaches such as not discussing farm matters at the dinner table, allocating time ‘off-farm’ and recognising the difference between business and family decisions — as they can all impact on our connectedness and happiness.”

Just remember three simple rules

Delegates at the recent DairySA Central Conference in Hahndorf were given three simple rules to remember when looking at TMR and PMR options, during an in-depth presentation by Laura Tweddle, Consulting Nutritionist from Debenham Australia.

The Rules are:

■ Cows Can’t Read

■ Cows Don’t Lie

■ Cows Love Boring

Ms Tweddle said cows would be happy to eat the same thing five days a week and that sometimes we can overcomplicate the situation.

In essence, she stated if cows are not producing how we want them to, then it’s likely they are not eating what we want them to eat.

“And if you are in doubt, go back to the three simple rules.”

Ms Tweddle examined the benefits and pitfalls of each of the systems and provided important reminders to help maximise productivity and health through rumen fill management, examining both the advantages and disadvantages of each dairy system.

She explained that there are several considerations to take into account including:

■ Feed Quality & Feed Intake

■ Rumen Fill & Feed Intake

■ Feed Variation & Feed Intake

■ Ration Formulation & Budgeting

■ Understanding which group of cows to formulate the ration for.

The gains in a PMR System included:

■ An attitude towards feed planning and feeding consistency, to maintain production.

■ An ability to feed with greater efficiency and less wastage.

■ An opportunity to maximise production for the lift in system intensity.

The gains in a TMR System included:

■ Increased input level.

■ Increased target production level to match.

■ Reduction of wastage through feeding system.