Smart farming

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What defines a good farm advisor?

Who can step up the number of lactations in a herd and boost animal health? A good advisor can. But what defines a good farm advisor?

The CowSignals training company has set up 5 characteristics that define a good farm advisor.

Photo: Hans Prinsen
Photo: Hans Prinsen

1. They have the best interest of the farmer and the cows at heart

For advisors it is not always their first priority to focus on animal welfare. For feed advisors it might be more attractive to sell more expensive feed than to focus on more simple solutions in housing and management. Suppliers might care more about selling mats than if it’s best for the cows. Even vets earn money by selling medicine. Farmers deserve an advisor who challenges them and helps them improve, rather than to always go for the cheapest option.

2. They understand cows

To achieve excellent animal welfare and longevity, there’s only one simple thing you need to do: provide the cow with what she needs. If you give the cow her 6 basic needs, she will pay you back in health and milk. To know if cows are provided with these 6 basics, all you have to do is look at the cow signals. The cow will tell you herself what she needs, she knows best!

3. They understand elements outside their area of expertise

Another challenge for advisors is to understand factors involved in animal welfare besides their own expertise. We value the knowledge of experts a lot, but the best advisors also have a general understanding of all elements: housing, feed, health, management and economics. It’s the only way you can truly help farmers understand the source of their problems and help them find the right solution.

Also read: From a cow's point of view - Dairy Global talks to Joep Driessen about the CowSignals concept

4. They have the ability to make things practical and simple

Advisors need to be able to translate scientific knowledge into practise. Based on experience and visiting many farms, an advisor knows what works and what doesn’t. When a solution is provided, it should be one that the farmer is able to execute.

5. They understand people

Having excellent knowledge about cows is not enough. You don’t only need to understand the cow signals, but also the people signals. Advising is more about listening and asking the right questions than it is about telling people what to do. To truly help farmers, you have to look from the farmers point of view. That is the starting point from which you can effect real change.

Next to the CowSignals concept, the PeopleSignals Action Model has been developed. It is all about understanding people and getting them to take action. In the Open Certified CowSignals Master course, advisors will receive a 4-day training programme, with 50% focus on CowSignals and 50% focus on PeopleSignals.

Upcoming training days (in English):

. September 12-15 in Holland

. October 9-12 in Michigan, USA

. December 5-8 in Holland

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