To assess the performance of a farmer and to identify best practice among a group of farmers, the assumption is often made that all farmers maximize profits and thus share the same business goals. However, performance differs due to personal characteristics, objectives and strategies. A survey carried out among 73 Belgian dairy farmers revealed that for only 34% of the farmers "profit maximization" is a primary objective. A regression analysis revealed that self-declared profit maximizers only obtained a higher farm income per liter, not per labour unit. Through cluster analysis, four main groups of farmers were found with similar objectives and management ideas: (A) risk-taking and progressive cow farmers, (B) riskaverse and progressive labour savers, (C) risk-neutral and relatively conservative profit maximizers and (D) risk-averse and conservative cow farmers. Gross margin per liter was highest for the labour savers. Other performance parameters were higher for cluster B only compared to cluster D. Scale economies were found for all performance parameters except for gross margin per liter.