'Contractors are not banks': Maintaining good relationships with contractors key to improving cow and grass management
Maintaining good relationships with contractors is key to improving cow and grass management, two of Ireland’s most efficient dairy farmers told the Irish Grassland Association conference this morning.
Laois dairy farmer David Kerr told farmers that they need to appreciate contractors and pay them on time as they can significantly reduce farmer workload and improve overall farm efficiency.
“There’s a lot of messing going on when it comes to payment. Contractors are not banks. I pay them by standing order and pay the balance at the end of the year. You need to ensure they’re getting paid. If you treat these people with dignity, they’ll give it back in spades,” he said.
“The contractors drive the system on my farm and have worked here for 10-25 years. They’re spreading fertiliser for 10 or 11 years. It used to take me two days with my spreader but the guy I have does it all in four hours. Appreciate them, there’s enough money to go around.”
Mr Kerr also added that trusting relief workers is important so that farmers can have a work/life balance and take a break from the farm.
“Relief guys know the farm just as well I do, they don’t need any maps. They’re all part of the team. If you don’t trust them, you’ll have no life at all,” he said.
Kevin Ahern, who has been managing Shinagh Farm, a 230 cow cross-bred dairy herd outside Bandon Co Cork, works 250 hours a month on the farm. Despite these long hours, Kevin said he always manages to start and finish at the same time in the morning and evening and would urge farmers to do the same thing.
“I live 38 miles away from the farm. I need to finish before seven if I want to see my kids in the evening. You need to be able to switch off from the farm, so I like to start milking at seven in the morning so I can be finished early in the evening,” he said.