The welfare and well-being of people working on dairy farms is as much a priority as animals and the environment.

That was one of a number of take-aways from the first workshop of a new 3-year project being facilitated by the Food Ethics Council.

An initial workshop with dairy farmers from across the UK took place at the Groundswell Show in June.

A second workshop will be taking place at the UK Dairy Day event in Telford on September 15.

The participants taking part run a variety of dairy systems, including organic and zero-grazing setups across England, Wales and Scotland.

Topics discussed in the first workshop included competition between farms, the challenges of building a sustainable business, and the cost constraints on making improvements to staff well-being.

Improving working conditions

Staffordshire dairy farmer and AHDB dairy board member Liz Haines, who chaired the first workshop, said:

“We already try and do a good job of looking after our cows, but I think we could do more to improve working conditions for staff.

In terms of what I would like to change to make our farm more ethical, I would love to be able to offer my employees more flexible working hours, to have people doing more flexible rotas or to have people who come in at 5:00am and run home at lunchtime.”

Sussex dairy farmer and Nuffield scholar Keith Gue, who took part in the first discussion, added: “We are actively looking to make the life of our team more manageable.

“This includes looking at moving them to salaries and in some instances reducing their hours.

“People who are less tired and less stressed do a better job, and then the cows are healthier, and then you ship more milk.”