Outsourcing labour is way forward for dairy farmers
A tripling of workload during the spring calving season has made workloads a 'critical issue' on expanding dairy farms.
An open day at the Shinagh demonstration farm this Thursday will see Teagasc experts advising stressed-out dairy farmers to out-source as much of the workload as possible during the spring.
"Traditionally, farmers just worked harder during the spring, but as herds increase that's becoming increasingly unsustainable," said Teagasc's head of livestock systems, Padraig French.
"It can create massive stress and some farmers just don't cope, especially if you get a tough spring," he said.
Data from the highly efficient Shinagh herd shows that nearly half of the 4,322 hours required to made the herd were racked up during three months in the spring.
Some 20pc of the total hours were accumulated in March, followed by 18pc in the February. During these periods, the farm relies heavily on student and part-time labour.
To cope better, Mr French is advising farmers to contract out as much work as possible, including getting silage contractors to feed and clean out sheds.
"Having the right facilities is also a factor, but things such as automated calf feeders can be very expensive."