7 things employees look for before working on a dairy farm

File photo
File photo
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Making a dairy farm an attractive place to work is of increasing importance to Irish dairy farmers in recent years. Future predictions expect a further 2,000 further workers will be needed by 2025 to enter the sector, according to Teagasc.

Farm assistant, Cormac Desmond from Innishannon Co Cork spoke about different aspects of a farm that makes it a more attractive place to work as an employee at the recent National Dairy Conference.

Set start and finish time

Cormac explained that when a farmer appreciates that he has other commitments off-farm and needs to be finished at an agreed time, this helps both to attract staff and to retain them.

“I’ve other commitments than working on the farm, be it training or college in the past, as long as farmers understood this, and I did need to leave by a certain time, it made it a better place to work in.”


Not alone does the roster allow for workers to plan ahead, it also makes organising work around off-farm commitments that much easier, according to Cormac.

“It works very well, in that you can talk to your colleagues and organise a swap in advance. You know who’s working when and can work around a match if needs be,” he said.

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Willing to teach

Farmer’s being willing to teach workers is a key incentive for new staff, according to Cormac comes from a dairy farming background and has worked for several farms of varying sizes. He said it is important for many younger workers that there is an element of upskilling involved.

“If farmers are willing to teach staff how to carry out grass walks or are willing to bring them along to discussion groups, this will in my opinion entice workers to the farm,” he said at the conference.

Good facilities

In order to make the farm a more enjoyable place to work on, good facilities are a must according to the young Farm Assistant.

“It makes it that much easier to get up in the morning and workers can find themselves looking forward to work, I the farmers willing to invest in good facilities.”

One boss, not two

He also said that in farm partnerships or farmer and son operations, the instructions need to be clear and agreed among both parties, that one employer doesn’t work against the other.

“Where there’s to bosses involved workers can sometimes get caught in the cross fire trying to keep them both happy. As long as there’s a clear understanding whose instructions to follow from the start there should be no problems.”


Cormac also said that increasing responsibilities outside the daily farm jobs on the farm for workers can help entice workers and retain them.

“Having responsibility for the calves for example and having the farmers trust can go a long way in keeping the workers happy.”


He also said that a simple acknowledgement of having a job well done can also keep workers happy at a work place.

Online Editors

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