How to make your dairy farm a better place to work

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Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

The increase in Irish dairy cow numbers from 1.1m cows in 2010 to over 1.4m cows in 2018, has meant that many more dairy farmers are now employing either full or part time people to manage the increased workload, according to Paidi Kelly, speaking at a workshop at the recent National Dairy Conference.

He said during this time frame the availability of labour has reduced due to unemployment rates nationally decreasing, from 15pc in 2010 to 5.4pc in 2018, and has increased competition for employees.

Between 2010 and 2016 the number of employees working on Irish dairy farms has increased by over 40pc; from 2,900 to 4,100 people, he said, adding that attracting and retaining employees is crucial for the success of Irish dairy farmers and so it is essential Irish farms are attractive places to work.

Having a farm that is a good workplace is crucial for not just employees, but also the farm family and the farmer himself, he explained at the workshop.

“A good farm workplace is a safe place to work, well organised, and people have the resources they need to efficiently complete all tasks,” said the Researcher.

How to successfully attract and retain employees

He said it is crucial that a farm is a good place to work at for an employee. There are many aspects of providing a good farm workplace, he said including:

·        Being a good employer – ensuring that the farm follows best practice in recruiting and managing employees including meeting all legal requirements;

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·        Promoting good communication;

·        Providing adequate farm facilities in good working order well e.g. milking parlour, cow and calf accommodation; and

·        Setting the farm up for success – farm maps, whiteboards, standard operating procedures.

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