Dream team drives dairy performance
Consultant: Ryan Aberle
Two former Ohio dairymen managing operation together
Averaging 6 pounds of components on 1,500 cows
Component efficiency over 10
Long commutes are common in a big city, but what would make a person drive over an hour each way to work at a dairy? A good teammate or two might make someone think about it, but it would take the right team, a dream team, to make that happen. A dream team is exactly what Farm Manager Craig Hall feels like they have at Convoy Dairy, located just one mile into Western Ohio from the Indiana state line. Hall, a high school basketball coach in his spare time, knows the value of good teammates which is why he makes the 50+ mile drive morning and night to manage the 1,900-cow dairy.
Convoy Dairy is owned by Lamb Farms, a family dairy operation owned and operated by the Lamb and Veazey families. Originally started in New York in 1966, Lamb Farms expanded into Ohio with the purchase of Convoy Dairy in September of 2016. Once Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant Ryan Aberle learned the Lambs were looking for a farm manager, the first person he thought of was Craig. “And once he was hired, the first question I asked him was ‘are you going to hire Scott?,” Aberle recalls.
Craig and Scott VonGunten had managed a dairy in Ohio together. After ownership changes there caused both to depart, they were eager to be reunited at Convoy Dairy. Craig and Scott bring different strengths to their team, along with a mutual respect for each other. They also share a mutual respect for Aberle and Cargill.
“Ryan is in a small handful of nutritionists who I feel like really listens to what you’re saying, especially if something’s not going right,” VonGunten explains. “If I call Ryan up, he’s able to discuss with me what adjustments we’ll make. Some nutritionist won’t do that or don’t know how to think outside what the ration says on their computer. He can listen to me, and listen to the cows, and make adjustments. Ryan’s also not afraid to speak up and tell you how it is, even if you don’t want to hear it.”
Component efficiency, or pounds of solids produced over feed costs, drive the metrics for the Lamb Farms. During a monthly team meeting, Aberle compiles results from the past 12 months to review and look for trends. Convoy is compared against other Lamb-owned locations. Aberle is occasionally joined at these meetings by other Cargill teammates, including Laura Homan.
“I feel like you’re getting full service with Cargill. It’s a team of people that comes with Ryan,” Hall says. “He puts the time in, as does Laura, and the others who come out. They do a good job with the checks and balances on each other and helping us evaluate the dairy from every angle.”
“Your always trying to compete, always trying to get better,” VonGunten explains. “Our goal is to manage this dairy better than the Lamb and Veazey families manage their home farms. I feel like we’ve got the right team here that could do that.”