Better communication, better teamwork, and better management
Dairy Focus Consultant: Chase Cashell
Jonathan Burns, like most dairy farmers, fulfills more than one role when it comes to managing and running his family’s farm. General manager, herdsman, and mechanic are just a few of his titles on his family’s 500-cow dairy and 2,000-acre crop farm. So, when it comes to working with a nutritionist, what Jonathan values most is teamwork.
“Because of our size, it’s myself, my wife Domenica, my father David, my son Micah, and my daughter Karis that manage this entire operation,” says Jonathan. “ Having a nutritionist like Chase, who not only works with me, but is also proactive and willing to work with my veterinarian, consultant and employees, is huge.”
Jonathan explains that Chase Cashell, his Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant, goes beyond formulating rations and takes responsibility as a part of the farm’s management team.
“With any larger dairy, at the very least, you have your veterinarian, accountant, and nutritionist. A good nutritionist communicates with that entire management team. Because not only do they see most of the issues, but they can correct a lot of them too,” shares Jonathan.
Chase started working with Burns Family Farms in December 2019. At that time, the farm was struggling to reach their normal milk production of 90 lbs./cow/day, and were stuck averaging in the mid 70s. Jonathan says this went on for over a year, and that changing feeds and increasing additives wasn’t making a difference.
After a walkthrough, TMR audit, and multiple time-lapse video recordings monitoring feed push up, Chase found room for improvement in the way feed was mixed, delivered, and managed in front of the cows. Results from the TMR audit showed there was up to a 20% deviation in particle size on delivered feed, which led Chase to the mixer.
“I brought this information to Jonathan and recommended that the mixer may need maintenance and he got it fixed right away,” says Chase. “From this alone we saw milk production increase, and with Jonathan’s approval I then began working directly with employees on improving feed mixing and push up protocols.”
This included Chase taking the farm’s feeder to neighboring dairies to see how they defaced silage piles, loaded ingredients, and delivered feed. In addition, Chase also routinely shares TMR audit results with the feeder. Jonathan and Chase both agree that including employees in the process of “why we do things the way we do things” adds more value to their job.
“It’s about making it feel like a team situation, instead of owners saying ‘this is how it has to be done,’ without sharing the full reasoning of why it needs to be done that way,” shares Jonathan.
Today the farm is back to averaging 90 pounds per cow and hitting their goal for 6 pounds of components too. Something the entire farm team was able achieve through communication, management, and teamwork.