Production changes related to labor management in Virginia dairy herds

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Virginia Tech


A 1979 survey of labor practices of 321 randomly selected Virginia dairy herds was analyzed and labor data were combined with DHI records to determine for Holstein herds the relationship of labor management with subsequent enrollment in the Dairy Herd Improvement program, and the effect of labor management variables on the change in production variables through eight subsequent years. Employees classified as herds person received the highest monthly cash wage ($964) and those classified as calf person received the lowest wage ($562). Herds persons were the most educated type of employee with 65% having at least a high school education and half of those having attended college. The percent of farms remaining on DHI was influenced by cash wage, 67% for under $300/mo and 87% for above $999/mo. For production, 31% of the low production herds remained on DHI versus 84% for high production. In 1978, herds persons trained before hiring were associated with 955 kg more fat corrected milk per year. Herds where herds persons worked many hours for low pay had the largest increase in days open from 1978 to 1986. Milkers with more education were associated with a larger increase in fat corrected milk, but employment status for herds persons was more influential than for milkers in reducing mastitis. Increase in $100 in pay benefits for feeders working many hours resulted in 300 kg more milk. Feeders who were qualified before hiring also increased milk yield. High pay and many hours of work for fieldmen led to a significant 4 d reduction in days open, while low pay and many hours were related to increased breedings per conception. The importance of employees being trained before hiring was beneficial for most types of employees and several production variables. Difficulty keeping good workers, though detrimental to remaining on DHI, was associated with improved production, possibly because of a demand for quality efforts. Availability of educational programs was associated with reduced production, while availability of reading materials was beneficial to many DHI variables. Though not all results can be explained, several models had squared correlations between 50 and 80%.