Conference aims to address labour issues in the dairy industry

Teagasc – in association with the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) – has organised a conference to identify solutions and strategies to overcome the low availability of skilled labour in the Irish dairy industry.

The Teagasc International Agricultural Workforce Conference is set to take place on Tuesday, July 10, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cork. It is scheduled to get underway at 9:00am.

Given that the ‘People in Dairy Action Plan‘ was recently published by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, Teagasc believes that this conference is “very timely“.

Themes that will be focused on at the conference will include:
  • Putting in context international and Irish farm labour situations;
  • Labour efficiency;
  • Milking technology and process efficiency;
  • People management on dairy farms.

Commenting on the event, the director of Teagasc – Prof. Gerry Boyle – said: “An international and national panel of speakers has been assembled to explore farm labour; one of the major issues that will shape the future of dairy farming in Ireland.”


At the conference, the international trends in farm labour demand and what it means for farmers, advisors, industry and government will be examined by Prof. Ruth Nettle from the University of Melbourne.

Current labour efficiency measures on Irish dairy farms and how they may be improved will be outlined by Dr. Bernadette O’Brien. Meanwhile, the recent changes in the structure of Irish dairy farms will be explained by Paidi Kelly from Teagasc.

The LEAN Farm Programme – as rolled out by Dairygold – will be described by farmers Patrick Shine and Pat Ryan; this presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on the same topic.

Given that the ‘milking’ task is between a third and half of the overall work on farms, Dr. John Upton is set to highlight the measures required to reduce milking times to ensure a safe working environment for farmers and – at the same time – encourage the next generation of farmers to enter the industry.

At the conference, Pat Hickey will discuss the merits of herringbone and rotary parlours – given that he has personal experience of both.

In the final session, Dr. Callum Eastwood from DairyNZ is scheduled take a new approach to examining dairy workplace designs – while addressing the challenge of attracting and retaining staff on dairy farms.

Following on from this, Mark Cassidy who farms in Co. Meath will outline his people management strategy for springtime – which is a real “labour bottleneck” on many farms, Teagasc explained.

Anyone interested in attending the conference can be book a place by visiting Teagasc’s website.