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The importance of communication
Farm staff want to improve and make a positive difference to the business. Photo: Benjamin Wedemeyer
I HOPE everyone has had a much-needed rest and a chance to relax over the festive season after a very challenging 2020, hopefully in preparation for a more prosperous, easier and healthier 2021.
advice required, though if this advice isn’t com- municated effectively to properly trained staff, no difference will show in production results.
In the December issue of APN, I wrote about the situation of the mink industry in Denmark, which was devastating for producers around the country.
the harbours filled with fishing vessels.
will be but, as the ma- jority of mink have been destroyed, it feels too little too late.
The farm had begun back fat scanning their gilts and sows at mating and during gestation to get a more accurate idea of body condition and subsequently ensure they were on the right feeding curve.
The issue continued to impact on most of Danish agriculture over the past month and unfortunately, the situation has wors- ened.
More recently, a parlia- mentary document was leaked, which clearly in- dicated that there were no grounds for the gov- ernment order of the de- struction of mink in ac- cordance with the Danish constitution.
Though perhaps it could be used in the argument for producer compensa- tion, the details of which have not been released in any form.
Becoming common- place in Denmark, the farm was not seeing any benefit of carrying out this routine and still had an issue with sows being too lean.
Protests were held by farmers and fishers in both Copenhagen and Aarhus on the November 21, with hundreds of tractors in each city and
I do not know what the outcome of this evidence
The mink industry issue, low pig prices and a total lockdown of Den- mark due to a scarily high COVID-19 infection rate have combined to provide a challenging start to 2021 on this side of the globe.
After a discussion with the mating shed manager, it turned out that in prac- tice the farm was using the results of back fat scanning as a guide and their personal assessment of body condition score to assign the animal to a feeding curve.
Capacity building and retention is a phrase we’ve heard a lot recently and while it’s a challenging subject, during my time on farm over the past couple of months I have been re- minded of the importance of effective communica- tion and training, and the retention of knowledge- able and capable staff.
The reason why – being accuracy – was commu- nicated frequently in both written and spoken media throughout Denmark over the past year and yet why is the message not getting to the farm staff?
In these challenging times, it is hard for an- yone to stay motivated at work, in particular those who couldn’t return home safely to loved ones over the Christmas break and cannot see an end to the restrictions.
This issue is not going away and will only con- tinue the more we rely on staff that do not speak the native language of the country they are working in.
A case example from a farm I have been working with highlights my point.
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I am hearing the phrase ‘stay positive and test neg- ative’ fairly often, which in a roundabout fashion brings me to the point of my article this month – the importance of com- munication.
Unfortunately, the prac- tice caused issues between the owner and the man- ager, however the source of the issue was the lack of understanding as to why back fat scan results should be used rather than personal body condition assessment.
When analysing a pro- duction unit, we look at optimising nutrition, ge- netics, production rou- tines and procedures, fa- cilities and animals, and what all of these things have in common is the impact of effective staff and labour, which we gen- erally think to augment in the same way.
While there is an argu- ment for staff compliance versus staff understanding, in general I believe em- ployees want to improve and make a positive differ- ence to the business.
We can provide all the technical services and
If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that communication is key and we need to continue to seek effective communi- cation strategies that can be implemented from a distance to all levels of farm staff.
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Page 8 – Australian Pork Newspaper, January 2021

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