Dairy Advisory Teams
Dairy Pipeline: December 1999
Virginia=Maryland Regional College of Vet Medicine
Does your veterinarian blame your nutritionist for the sick cows on your farm? Is your banker not too excited to loan you money for that project you have planned because she's not sure it is feasible? Are you frustrated by getting professional advice from so many experts -- who can't seem to agree on anything?!?! Well, maybe having a "dairy advisory team" is something you should consider! A meeting was recently held in the Shenandoah Valley to explain the concept of these advisory teams and to relate some experiences of how they are working in Pennsylvania. A number of herds in Pennsylvania have been very pleased with the way these teams have functioned. A few herds in Virginia have just recently put these teams in place and at least one herd in southwest Virginia has been very pleased with the results of their advisory team input over the last year. A dairy advisory team is a group of farm advisors that meets on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly, for example) to discuss farm issues and to make suggestions that can help the producer achieve his or her goals - whether those be 'personal/family', profitability or productivity goals. These teams are usually relatively small (4-6 people), and can be made up of various advisors or specialists such as a veterinarian, a crop specialist, a nutritionist, a financial advisor/lender, extension personnel, or others... depending on the producers goals and concerns. Other specialists may be consulted from time to time if the team does not have the expertise to address a particular issue or concern within the group. The herd owner(s) remains, of course, ultimately responsible for choosing to implement, modify or ignore the recommendations of the advisory team! Even though farm advisory teams may not 'fit' everyone's situation, they can be an excellent way to have important farm advisors discuss issues 'face-to-face' and to reach consensus on the best way to reach farm goals and address areas of concern. If you are interested to know more about how these teams can function or how to go about setting up an advisory team, please contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension dairy agent for more details.