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People management becomes more important as the national dairy herd grows

June 20, 2021, 2:00 p.m.

The national dairy herd has seen a sharp increase in post-milk quotas, with 100 herds of cows becoming the norm in many parts of the country; recent figures from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) showed a 3.7% increase in the national herd in 2020 compared to 2019.

Since 2011, the national herd has increased by 31% – until 2020 – with the number of dairy cows increasing from 1,144,826 to 1,570,180.

With the growth in the number of dairy cows, the need for workers on dairy farms has become more pressing than ever, with many farmers struggling to find and retain staff.

National dairy herd

Farm workers are one of the resources, if not the most important, for Irish dairy farmers who have expanded after the quota.

It is important that the working environment on the farm is good. This will not only make the farm more attractive to work, but will also make it easier to retain staff.

Many dairy farmers have made great strides in improving their farms through better grassland management, animal husbandry and have become more environmentally friendly, but their personnel management is lagging behind.

To make your farm a more attractive place to work, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Be fair and don’t point fingers;
  2. Vary the tasks;
  3. Make tasks as easy as possible and more enjoyable;
  4. Be clear about how you want a task to be accomplished;
  5. Communication is the key;
  6. Encourage with time off and responsibilities;
  7. If possible, set a start and end time.

Other considerations

Besides people management, other things to consider when attempting to hire staff are reviewing farm facilities.

Here are some questions to ask: is the milking currently too long or too complete? Is the machine safe for people to use? Finally, is the farm well organized and a safe place for workers?

According to Health and Safety Authority (HSA), there have been more than 210 agriculture-related deaths since 2011, with tractors accounting for 91 deaths (43%), followed by 39 (19%) for livestock and 22 (10%) for machinery.

A good workplace is a workplace that is safe, well organized, and equipped with the resources people need to perform all tasks effectively.

Having a good working environment is not only important for employees, but also for family members.


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