Joe Sheehy: Planning your working day is essential

Teagasc surveys show that on average, dairy farmers work 12 hours per day in February and March, and some of them work up to 16 hours. 

Due to the wide variety of very important tasks to be carried out in spring, very good planning and a good work routine is essential.

Otherwise, some very important tasks will be left undone or carried out badly often resulting in very serious losses. The biggest losses and inefficiencies on dairy farms can come from neglect.

And the necessary attention to detail is not always possible if you are under too much pressure.

Make a list of all the important tasks to be carried out, making sure that the most important jobs receive priority attention. It is important that every one knows their own role and responsibilities, whether family members or hired labour.

Someone has to take overall responsibility, to ensure nothing is neglected. The most important tasks in the spring rush include cleaning and disinfecting calf houses and calving boxes, taking precautions against diseases, adequate supervision of calving, and keeping good records.

Every effort must be made to reduce labour requirements, such as installing extra milking units, group feeding calves, once-per-day feeding of stronger calves etc.

If labour is scarce, as it is on many fairly large dairy farms at this time of year, help should be hired in. A pool of highly trained, skilled labour is available through the Farm Relief Services in many areas.

This service is used by hundreds of our most progressive dairy farmers and has been proved very reliable and excellent value for money.

Even if you have your own machinery it may be cheaper to hire in contractors for slurry and fertiliser spreading. Providing sufficient labour in spring will improve performance throughout the rest of the year.

Management plans for herd health, feeding, breeding, grassland management, and quota management should be discussed with your vet and Teagasc.


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