Farm labour – finding good staff and ensuring they stay

Farm labour staffing issues are fast becoming one of the more significant obstacles to progression and development on local dairy farms.

Managing key resources on farm, like farm labour has become central and is now considered a key component to overall farm profitability.

According to Judith McCord, CAFRE dairying adviser:

Growing dairy herd size and/or milk output along with technological advances has increased the demand for a skilled labour force.

“The availability of workers in combination with a greater emphasis on work-life balance has led to a reduction of staff entering the dairy sector, which, in turn, makes the recruitment process more difficult.”

When in the recruitment process, most local dairy farms have two criteria to fulfil, she explained.

Firstly they seek well-trained people who understand the complexity involved in milk production, health and welfare of animals, technical efficiency and can put these into practice.

“Secondly, they seek staff who can carry out simple routine work, such as milking, fencing paddocks or driving tractors.”

It is not be easy to find multi-skilled people who are willing to work long and sometimes difficult hours.

There is also the important recognition that, in general, staff will not want to work as hard and put in the long hours that the self-employed farmer will do on his/her own farm.

To find out more, CAFRE, Dairy UK and Ulster Farmers’ Union are delivering a webinar entitled ‘Attracting, training and retaining staff’.

  • Joe Delves, a farmer from Sussex will share his experience of creating a good workplace and motivating his farm team.
  • This will be followed by Teagasc researcher, Marion Beecher, who will share the latest findings of what are the key practices and tips to make a labour-efficient dairy farm.

Pre-registration is essential and can be done here