While dairy farmers are not lucky enough to have snow days, when the frigid low temperatures and howling wind postpone my outdoor plans, I try to make the best of my situation and get organized.
I have picked up organizing ideas from working internships. First, on our barn desktop computer I use PCDart to keep our herd records up to date. I have learned how to utilize this program to the fullest, scheduling it to print off weekly vaccinations, ovsynch shots and cows to watch for heat every Monday. When I arrive on Monday mornings, I simply grab the lists off the printer tray and put them on the corresponding clipboard. Besides this, I have created shortcuts on the home screen for all of our go-to websites, such as our creamery data, CowScout activity and rumination collar data, calving pen cameras, select sires bull search and CME milk futures market. This allows my dad and I to look up information quickly throughout the day and keep up to date. Teamview is another favorite program of mine, as it allows me to log into the barn desktop from my laptop at home, which came in handy often while I was home with Morgan.
In my office, I have several binders. Pregnancy checks, hoof trimming records and DHIA summaries are the three binders I use most often. I use tabs to write dates on the DHIA summaries so I can quickly find a certain month. We often go through pregnancy checks when a question arises such as if a cow was diagnosed with twins or not. Hoof trimming records allows me to compare the total number of wraps and blocks each month to see if we are making improvement.
On the walls of our parlor, I have three dry erase boards. First, a calendar that includes upcoming birthdays, hoof trimming, DHIA testing, workshops and other significant dates. Second, a Medicated cow board where treated cows are written down along with their pen, type of antibiotic and which days they need treatment. For example, if a cow has written ‘RF spectramast MTW,’ her right front quarter needs a spectramast tube on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This information is easy to view while milking cows and ensures cows will receive treatment on the correct days. Typically we give all treatments during morning milking to avoid any confusion. The third board is huge and divided into 12 sections. Cows to cull, dry up, calve, hoof trim, vet check, heats and high SCC, as well as supplies to order, projects to work on, things needing fixing, a weekly to-do list and my own section where I list my tasks to accomplish that week. I love the convenience of this board as during milking I can easily make notes of a cow that needs trimming or is in heat.
Next to our supply shelf we have a cork board. We have stapled our yellow DHIA barn sheet and monthly lists of cows due to calve, cows due to dry up, heifers to breed, cows to watch for heat and cows set up to breed each week on our ovsynch program. This board is located in our utility room right next to the parlor door which makes it easy to run in and glance at a list while milking or grab the cows due to calve list before sorting dry cows to our transition pen.
Two of my favorite Christmas presents included a digital label maker and a laminator. I keep my label maker in my barn office so I can print off labels any time I need. I make labels for our supply shelf, vaccine refrigerator and breaker panels. The laminator works for projects as small as my car insurance card and as big as this newspaper page. For example, in our old milk room, which stores all of our calf feeding supplies and pasteurizer, I have laminated instructions posted on how to operate the pasteurizer, cleaning protocols, symptoms of a sick calf and our treatment protocols. I keep track of any antibiotics given to calves in a notebook, which has water resistant paper. Even if the notebook gets soaked in water, my writing will not smudge, and I can look up previous calf treatments without running over to the barn office.
Finally, as a true millennial I would be lost without my cell phone. From looking up a phone number, being able to call the vet to order supplies while I am in the barn or call in a LDA before I have even left the cow’s pen, my phone saves lots of time. I often look up info, such as our DHIA web report or a haylage sample result in an email, when I am walking the barn with a consultant. When I am in the heifer pens, I can easily text my dad the number of a heifer in heat, and I have a list in my notes app of any heifers that need to be looked at by the hoof trimmer. Best of all, I can watch our calving pen cameras via an app and be able to call my dad if a cow is calving late at night or rest peacefully knowing all is calm.
Adding mother to my titles certainly added many responsibilities to my life the past three months, but luckily my organization skills have made the transition easier. I am proud of where I am at and always anxious to add new ideas. My goal is to make life in the barn as efficient as possible, so I can have more time with my sweet baby girl.
Laura Scholtz farms with her father, John Rosenhammer, and uncle, Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.