NEW ZEALAND – Improving Dairy Business Skills – May 31, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – More than 500 farmers took part in DairyNZ’s Face-to-Face event at Mystery Creek in Hamilton yesterday to hear expert speakers on the range of challenges and opportunities facing Waikato dairy farmers.

Two of the key sessions of the day focused on improving employment in the sector – an important issue as dairying is one of the top 10 employers in the region according to Statistics NZ, employing around four per cent of the workforce.

Sarah Watson, a DairyNZ specialist in Human Capability, led the session for dairy farm employers focusing on ideas managers could implement immediately.

“When you’re a quality employer, you can reduce labour costs, decrease stress on the farm and eliminate many human resource-related hassles. Following this practical session, we wanted managers to leave asking themselves, ‘What can I do differently when I return to the farm tonight that will make me a better employer?’

“The workshop provided practical tips for managing people, including a focus on retaining quality staff which is a relevant subject as the new season begins. High turnover can lead to higher recruiting and training costs and a blemish on a farm’s reputation, which makes it tougher to attract staff long-term. So, decreasing turnover of quality staff should be every farm manager’s goal,” said Ms Watson.

Geoff Taylor, DairyNZ’s Development Team Leader, People & Business, led the second session which was designed for farm staff and discussed what it takes to be more effective in their jobs.

“Being a valuable contributor in a dairy farm business starts with understanding what your employer values and what opportunities there are to have input and make a positive difference.

“The best dairy farm employees are those who have the right attitude and are continually building their skills so they can become even more valuable members of the farm team. Our workshop for farm staff looked at an action plan to make this happen and at how to deal effectively with conflict, hone communications skills and achieve clear expectations,” explains Mr Taylor.

Also popular at yesterdays event were the free health checks offered as part of a project between DairyNZ and the Institute for Rural Health. Around 60 farmers took the opportunity to have their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checked with a number of these referred to their GP for further health advice.

The DairyNZ Face-to-Face event in the Waikato was the last in a series of four events held around the country during April and May. For those unable to attend, papers and presentations from all four events are now available. For access go to http://www.dairynz.co.nz/facetoface or phone 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969).

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

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