This past week I have had some great conversations with some excited dairymen, yes even in these low prices there are some that are looking to make choices to grow and continue their family businesses. These dairymen and women are looking to make changes that will allow them to use more technology on their farms, lighten their work load, improve cow care, and make the environments for their cows and employees a happier and healthier one. All of these changes bring with some great opportunities but I find myself asking each of these producers, “What are your long term goals?”
Many think about how this new project might fit into their current dairy farm but few think “big picture” and envision how their project might help them step into the next 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years. If you are building a new free stall barn, are you building it so if you have a son or daughter return to the dairy you can easily add onto the barn? If you are building a parlor, will the new parlor meet the needs of your dairy as you grow or add cows? If you’re looking into robots, are you building your facility in a way that makes the most sense for you and your family to grow and thrive for the future? We all have our dream barns, I know I do, and then there’s the reality of your budget.
Can you afford to add on a few things now that will make growth and expansion easier in the future? Can you build an oversized parlor now to accommodate growth in your herd later? Can your robot barn have extra free stalls so you can grow into your barn? Budgets really dictate what and how we can plan for the future. Proposed projects should be able to cash flow with realistic expectations for cow numbers and milk production. If your budget is really tight, make sure that at minimum that you plan for the future with the land your building site is on. Try not to build yourself into a hole and try to leave sufficient space for possible growth. This way you won’t be out much if you don’t grow but you leave the door open, just in case. Make sure when planning your project you keep in mind your long term goals.