Herd ’23: 15-16 March, Bendigo
Surrounded by flood water last year Monique and Mark Bryant tried something new.
The third-generation dairy farmers from northern Victoria used a synchrony program to join their heifers.
This concept wasn’t foreign, the Bryant family had discussed the possibility of using this breeding tool with their herd improvement organisation Nu-Genes, but in the middle of natural disaster – and forced onto another farm – Monique and Mark knew they could trust the advice from their service provider.
“They understood where we were and what our constraints were,” Monique said.
“They encouraged us to step into this space by saying it will work – even if you just do it this once. That came down to our relationship with them, they knew how far they could push us, encourage us.”
That was back in October.
And it turned out Nu-Gene’s justification for the breeding program – it enabled a lot of work to be completed across a couple of days, rather than a little work every day – not only made joining less “stressful”, but it also delivered “good results”.
Monique, who milks 400 cows with her husband Mark and children Ella 17 and Aiden 15, will share her experience working with dairy industry service providers as part of a panel at the Herd ’23 breeding and genetics conference in Bendigo next month.
Joined on stage by fellow Northern Victorian farmer Mark Walpole and Nu-Genes Director Gerard Daniel, Monique and the panel will tackle the industry’s hottest topic – people in dairy.
Monique will outline her relationship with service providers and how, as a data driven manager, she asks for feedback to improve management practices and decisions.
In return, she ensures everyone on-farm is prepared for the arrival of any service provider, respecting their time by ensuring the task begins as scheduled.
Monique and Mark value the relationships they’ve nurtured over many years.
“We look at aligning ourselves with service providers that have the same values as we do,” Monique said.
“We don’t shop around, it takes a long time to get to know each other, shopping around all the time is counterproductive.”
These long-term relationships also help both parties navigate challenging situations.
“Because we’ve been building relationships over time, if a problem does pop-up, it is easier to resolve because we have got a good relationship there,” Monique said.
“We might still have to have a really difficult conversation but because we’ve got a respectful relationship, it’s easier and, no doubt, helps get an outcome that is favourable for both parties.”
Clear communication also helps the Bryants provide the best work environment for their two staff.
Monique will tell the conference next month how they not only ask staff for feedback, but they also act on this information.
For example, fixing things that are broken, scheduling time each week for employees to complete work tasks together and guaranteeing a “quiet and calm” workplace.
Staff – like service providers – are crucial to the success of the Bryant’s dairy farm.
Monique and Mark ensure their value is not only rewarded but also reflected in the language used within the business.
“I don’t say there are people working for me, we have staff working with us,” she said.
“There’s a distinct difference in that wording. Staff stand beside us, right next to us and help us work towards a sustainable and profitable business.”
Herd conferences are a joint initiative between DataGene, Dairy Australia, Holstein Australia and the National Herd Improvement Association (NHIA).