Dairy farm employment arrangements for Spring 2023
With the average dairy herd at 90 cows many farmers comment that finding part-time help is an issue. Furthermore, some will say they can only justify paying for help in spring and that for the rest of the year they do not need help. Martina Gormley, Teagasc Dairy Specialist has helpful suggestions
With the above in mind, how can dairy farmers find part-time help and what budget is required?
Who may want part-time work?
From looking at current part-time employment arrangements on dairy farms, we can identify people that want part-time work.
- Students: Some farmers are finding the students have good availability at weekend, evening and holidays to work on dairy farms.
- Relief milkers: where the employee solely does milkings for farmers.
- Drystock farmers: Working part-time on a dairy farm gives the drystock farmer the option to continue to run their own farm simultaneously. These employments can work very well as the drystock farmer has years of experience with stock and is usually local to the dairy farm.
- Families: Working part-time on a dairy farm can work well with school pick-ups and reducing childcare costs.
So what could a part-time budget look like?
There is a big range in terms of what the total year’s labour bill is on farms. From Teagasc profit monitor data farmers are paying from 1.5 to 3 cent/litre on wages. This excludes the farm owner and part-time family help. For the average herd size of 90 cows this can equate to €13,500 per year on labour. Depending on when the herd is fully dried off this could mean the part-time employee does 40% of the milkings per year. Alternatively, this could also mean that there is over 1,000 hours of work available throughout the year. Planning hours of work on a calendar is key to making this work for both the employer and employee. Maybe you do not need much help now but in order to have someone next spring offer the work now. Its rare to hear a farmer say they have too much help on the farm in any season.
Finding employees for now and next spring
Now is a great time to find part-time help for this year and potentially for next year. Local supermarkets are currently in undated with CVs from students. Within a 5-10 mile radius are there students now off school or college? Make sure to have your budget and potential hours of work thought through and make an offer.
You might also like to read Time off this summer: Planning and Task Prioritisation on Dairy Farms | Read more about Labour on dairy farms here