A phrase often heard in New Zealand is that ‘managing 400 cows is easy, managing staff is the difficult part’.

With the breeding season on spring-calving herds now coming to an end and scanning now will be beneficial to identify cows due within the first six weeks of calving next spring. Where quota is not an issue, this is important info for working out drying off dates in autumn.

In the UK this week, I have had several good discussions with farmers on hiring and managing farm staff. Considerable expansion has occurred within the UK during the past five years; finding and holding onto good staff has been an area of difficulty for those in expansion mode. Increasing stock numbers is relatively easy, sourcing qualified people to enhance and drive on your business however, as well as ‘up skilling’ yourself to manage such people can be difficult and is often overlooked. We must up skill ourselves in this area if we are to take on and manage people effectively.

Share milking discussions and the like, held by Teagasc, are an excellent forum to identify ways of incentivising staff. On smaller holdings, such agreements will not be feasible but by attending such talks, we can see what young farmers want to achieve and what we need to have in place to attract them to our businesses.