There is a regularly occurring statement that goes around this time of year: “Resolutions were made to be broken!” While as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in keeping their resolutions. Resolution is defined as a firm decision to do, or not do, a certain task. While wanting to make resolutions is all good and well, a more logical notion is to make goals. Goals are more appealing than resolutions because goals are more tangible, something you can measure and track your progress or pace. After making a resolution, one can say “they can” or “they can’t” do all that they want. Once you break a resolution you either start all over, or admit defeat. However if you don’t achieve your goal, you can make adjustments to the goal to make it more achievable. Meaningful goals are not made on a whim; thinking and planning is involved. Decide what you want/need to accomplish, then create a process to attain the goal.

When making goals they should be SMART:

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Timely

As 2018 has hardly just begun the outlook for milk prices already looks gloomy. We need to stay POSITIVE instead of getting down and negative (It isn’t easy!!) This should be the basis of setting goals for the year to come.  By setting goals you can find ways to decrease costs without forfeiting quality. Here are some examples of some achievable SMART goals for dairy farms

S – Herd SCC of < 150K

M- Qualities taken by DHIA and bulk tank average

A-Thoroughly achievable

R- Very realistic!!

T- in the next 3 months

  • This is an achievable starting point. By targeting prep procedure and equipment areas you can decrease mastitis treatment costs. Most creameries offer premium incentives if SCC is low enough. Sometimes offering a bonus incentive to employees is a good start.

S- Pregnancy rate of 35% for cows, and 50% for heifers. ( This is national average)

M- Results determined at pregnancy check, or tracked by dairy management software.

A- Absolutely Achievable

R- Very Realistic

T- in the next 6 months

  • Pregnant cows means cows that they are going to stay in the herd and stay productive. This is also made possible by implementing a rigorous culling program. Quality AI technicians and technique are important as well.

S-Increase Butterfat and Protein while decreasing feed costs.

M- Data collected by DHIA and bulk tank average

A- Entirely Achievable

R- Very Realistic

T- Within 6 months

  • In times like this a nutritionist plays an integral role. Finding alternative feedstuffs like brewers grain, wet cake, and dry distillers grains are just a few examples that can help lower feed costs.


These are just a few options that you can implement on your own farm. If you are already at these levels, great! Then raise the bar a little higher to see if you can continue to improve. You need to write down your goals and make a specific plan for your operation.

Written goals not only give you something you can visualize every day, but it also helps you focus and stay motivated to get to the end result. Goals that are written down and planned are accomplished at a much greater rate than those who do not write them down. Post your goal so you see it several times a day. Post your goals in your breakroom, parlor, office and any other areas that are regular stops for you and your family or employees. And guess what? It’s not the end of the world if you don’t reach your set goals. You can always readjust your goals accordingly! The point is to at least try.

Just remember– “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” – Earl Nightingale