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|Luis Rodriguez: Connecting the different areas of a dairy|
|El Lechero Elements - Herdsman spotlight|
|Written by EL Editor Darío Martínez|
|Tuesday, 14 December 2010 00:00|
However, the truth is that a dairy is divided into many areas where different types of workers are needed. Luis Rodriguez, the parlor manager at Plymouth Dairy in Le Mars, Iowa, helps maintain unity among all the different areas and workers on the dairy farm.
“I’m involved in almost all the areas on the farm,” Luis says. “My primary responsibility though is managing the parlor, the milkers and the cow pushers.”
Luis began working at this farm as a part-time milker seven years ago. Now, the farm has an average of 2,700 cows that are milked three times a day. Of the farm’s 31 employees, including some herdsmen and two part-time workers, Luis is in charge of 28.
Luis’ daily routine involves checking the milking equipment to make sure that there are no problems. Some of the areas he makes sure to fully inspect are the individual units, the pulsation, all the meters and the air and milk lines.
Through a computer program that collects the milk production records, he reviews the results from each shift and each team of milkers. After reviewing the records, he determines which areas can be improved.
Luis believes that communication between himself and the rest of the workers is very important. Therefore, he tries to talk to the milkers from each shift every day or every other day; that way he stays in touch with each team.
After inspecting the milking parlor, Luis goes and speaks with the cow pushers to see if everything outside is fine or whether anything needs attention. He then meets with the other herdsmen to see if there are any topics that need to be reviewed.
Because he is in charge of the milking team, feeders, cow pushers and some of the herdsmen and maternity pen workers, one of his duties is also creating the work schedules for all of these workers.
“I like working with people here on the dairy, and I always try to be around in case there are any problems; that way I can make sure to fix them as soon as possible,” says Luis.
Luis’ other tasks include cleaning the sand bedding from the cows’ beds in the morning and in the evening when the second shift is ending. Luis makes sure to always use the highest-quality sand possible for bedding.
Luis credits much of his success in managing the dairy to some advice that he was given by his boss when he first started working as the parlor manager four years ago.
“He told me to compare the dairy to a puzzle that had many pieces,” Luis says. “He said that I had to work in many areas of the dairy and keep them connected in order to always obtain good results.”
Since then, Luis has kept that advice in mind. He changed his work routine to where it would focus on all areas of the farm to maintain that connection and unity.
Even though Luis has many different tasks, he always tries to be available in case he is needed anywhere. Also, one of his objectives as a manager is to treat every worker fairly, which he tries to implement with every new employee.
“I try to invest in training based on a theoretical and hands-on experience,” Luis says. “Every person working here understands that we are a team and that we depend on each other.”
Luis provides educational training as well as hands-on teaching. He pairs up a new employee with a worker who has shown motivation and often becomes one of the best employees or one who has been working at the dairy the longest.
Afterwards, Luis holds meetings to inform and remind the workers of the dairy’s protocols, including topics like somatic cell counts, what causes them and how to avoid high counts.
Luis says the goals he would like to meet are to expand the dairy and continue providing great results for the dairy owners.
“For now, I will continue to help make improvements to the dairy, one step at a time, and continue learning every day,” he says. “I am the type of person that believes opportunities will become available if you work hard and do the work right.”
Luis has continued his success since he first immigrated to the U.S. from his native state of Guanajuato, Mexico, where he only dreamed of owning his own home. Now that he is married and has three daughters, his goals have changed.
Luis plans to teach his daughters a good work ethic and teach them that anything is possible if you work hard for it.
Luis says he will continue his learning on the dairy in the future. He hopes to learn more about herd health and cattle handling, including insemination and the vaccination of cattle. EL