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Who is the "Noticer" on your dairy farm?

Vince Crary

A group of dairy producers in Otter Tail County try get together a few times a month to visit about dairy marketing.   The Ag. Country Farm Credit Services in Fergus Falls is responsible for arranging and hosting the meetings. I do not get to all of them because of other commitments; but I always learn something when I do get a chance to be part of these meetings.  During the group meeting, each dairy producer talks about what they had done or were doing in regards to milk marketing and a good discussion takes place.  Dairy producers like to visit with one another to find out what management practice or product is working or of benefit on someone else's farm.

Following the milk marketing topic, the group discussion usually turns to other issues regarding their dairy operations.  At one meeting in particular, the discussion got around to the people that work on the dairies.  One of the producers present mentioned how important it is to have a good "noticer."  My thought was that this was an interesting label for someone working on the dairy farm.   I did an internet Google search for the word "noticer" and here is what I found from the English Dictionary:

noticer.  A noun.   1 noticer - someone who gives formal notice; 2 noticer - someone who takes notice; "a careful noticer of details".

The definition of number 2 fits the person we were talking about at the meeting. To have a "noticer" as part of the dairy team is to have a very valuable person, whatever size or type of dairy. When you think of all the things that need to be noticed on a dairy farm, the list gets very long.

Let's think of a typical day on your farm; I know, what day is ever typical? But for the sake of our discussion here, think about the things you do or that need to be done everyday. When you get to the barn first thing in the morning what, needs to be noticed? Are all animals doing well at first glance? Is all of the milking and feeding equipment running and sounding okay? As the milking is being done, are any cows showing signs of heat or possible health issues? When the calves are fed, are there any issues with their health? Does anything need to be cleaned or changed for the calves? How are the feed inventories? Does anything need to be ordered? As you walk through the barn, is there anything that needs attention? Any barn cleaning needs? Are there any water leaks or general barn repairs that need to be done? Are there any immediate electrical wiring needs or long term needs that should be considered?

On your way in for breakfast, observe what needs to be done in regards to the farm yard. Check the fences or gates to see if they need repair. Does the fuel barrel need refilling? Are there any flat tires or machinery in need of attention? Are there any equipment or machinery parts that need to be ordered? The list goes on and on.

No doubt, there is the need for a good "noticer" on each dairy farm. And, you have not even made it to the house for breakfast yet and the "noticer" could have quite a 'things to do' list. The "noticer" on your farm should have a plan on how to remember all the things noticed that need attention. That person should have a notebook and pen in his/her pocket to make notes, or have a big white board and markers located in a convenient place on which to write the items noticed so they get done. Having a "noticer" will be of no value if there is not a plan to get the noticed needs communicated to the proper person to ensure each is appropriately addressed. The dairy farm manager must make sure the "noticer" system is working, there is a communication method in place, and that appreciation is given or a thank you is extended to all involved.

So, a "noticer" can be a very valuable part of any farm team, as our Otter Tail County producer said. Remember how this management point arose? It resulted from dairy farmers getting together, talking about what is happening on their farms. The University of Minnesota Extension Dairy Team offers many educational opportunities throughout the year where farmers can get together, hear the latest research information and visit with other dairy producers to learn about such ideas as how to have a "noticer" for your dairy operation.

Published in Dairy Star September 8, 2007

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