Standard operating procedures on the farm: a laughing matter?

Standard operating procedures on the farm: a laughing matter?

Standard operating procedures eliminate confusion and wasted time

What is the most common reaction when you introduce a new idea on the farm? For me, I first hear chuckles from the audience. This audience is usually my dad, his farming friends, and the guys who help us on the farm.

Related: Setting Standard Operating Procedures for Your Farm

Next comes criticism as to why my idea will not work. I then try to navigate through this criticism and explain my idea's importance. I usually get people to come around and see why I'm not crazy.

A calf is immunized after it was purchased during an auction at the Fairview Sale Barn on August 2, 2012, in Fairview, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

We weaned calves today from our spring calving herd and moved them to a barn lot to feed for 45 days. We also moved the bulls to the fall calving herd for the next 90 days. The veterinarian comes to vaccinate the calves and castrate the bull calves from the fall calving herd each November.  We do this same process for the spring calves in June.

Four of us spent about an hour talking about this process, trying to remember what vaccinations the cows received last time. We couldn't remember when the bulls were last vaccinated or what cows already had their yearly shots.

"Everyone knows what we need to do, so we don't need to write it down," argued Justin.

My point is everyone doesn't know what needs to be done. Standard Operating Procedures would eliminate confusion and wasted time. Not all parts of our cow-calf operation need SOPs, such as giving hay to the cows. You fill the rings with hay, the cows eat it, and then refill when the ring is empty. But, vaccination schedules need SOPs.

Upon review, I discovered we have been giving the yearly vaccinations to cows twice per year. This is an example of how SOPs can save money. 

I want to dedicate this post to Justin, our full-time employee, for the blog inspiration. This was just the start of our conversation on SOPs. What SOPs do you have on your farm?


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