Business management techniques are being extended onto the farms of Dairygold Co-op suppliers, and easing the heavy workload on dairy farms could be one of the benefits.

Dairygold has successfully applied “lean” management techniques inside its business for five years, and says a farm level programme is seen as a natural progression.

The term “lean” was first coined by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research team, to describe Toyota’s business in the late 1980s. Now, after initial farm trials, Dairygold has extended the Lean Farm programme to a pilot group of 15 milk suppliers who recently received training. 

The co-op, with assistance from Teagasc, will support the farmers in examining their work, to see where benefits can be achieved.

On successful completion of the Lean Farm pilot programme later this year, Dairygold intends to roll it out to a wider supplier base.

One of the early farmer participants, 2016 Milk Quality Award winner Sean Moher, said: “For me, one of the benefits was the standardisation of the calf rearing routine. Now I’m getting that work done in less time, with less effort, giving me more time for the family, generally improving my work-life balance. 

"It’s all about organising yourself and finding the easiest way to do a job, and then standardising that method or approach. Sometimes it can be as simple as having your tools at the point of use, eliminating wasted time searching for them. It starts to make your day a lot easier. Working smarter, saving money.”

Dairygold Chairman, James Lynch said: “Lean is a proven methodology that can really simplify and improve work practices while improving safety, quality and ultimately the bottom line in any business. It allows farmers to ‘work smarter not harder’ saving them time, effort and money.”

Tim Healy, Head of Dairy Operations, said, “Farmers are working harder for longer hours, and we believe that lean can be applied to help address this. Secondly, our farmers have seen how successful the programme has been inside the factories, and were keen to apply lean tools and techniques in their own farming businesses”.


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