Do we need to be a bit more inventive about who we employ on our dairy farms?

Many dairy farmers are struggling to find employees. But is it a lack of available labour that is the issue? Is it the employers that are the issue? Or are we just looking in the wrong places?

Whilst at a people management course last week – hosted by Glanbia, Teagasc and Macra Agricultural Skillnet – there was an engaging discussion on the topic of farm labour…and where or how to find it?

One farmer present pointed out that, at the moment, we are “all pulling out of the same pool” – from the Farm Relief Services (FRS); from the colleges; etc.

So, maybe it isn’t a lack of available labour that is the issue, but rather we just need to look in different places than usual.

For instance, during the discussion another farmer said that he knew of a counterpart who asked his postman would he be interested in doing a few milkings for him? Apparently the postman said “yes”.

Another scenario was brought up, whereby a dairy farmer stood in the car-park of a meat factory and asked people on their way out of work “if they would be interested in milking his cows”. He also found a relief milker.

Other farmers present voiced the idea of asking beef and tillage farmers in their areas if they could spare a few hours a day – to either milk or undertake other work.

A further case was mentioned, whereby a farmer was acquainted with a woman who walked the road (adjacent to his farm) every day. He apparently asked her if she would walk his farm instead and measure grass whilst there – for modest payment. She supposedly agreed.

Also Read: What ‘type’ of labour will best suit my farm this spring?

While such unorthodox approaches might not work in every scenario, they do provide some food for thought.

Differentiating your ad from the next

Differentiating your advertisement (as a farmer seeking an employee) was also a topic of discussion at the event.

One farmer posed the question: “How do we differentiate ourselves from the next farmer [who is] looking?”

In response, another farmer described her approach. She explained that she used videos and photos in her adverts, where possible, and advertised on many different social media platforms.

She then noted that she had received nine responses to such an advert.

That prompted the course organiser to emphasise that, maybe, “we need to make our adverts more attractive to someone from outside the farming circle”.

For instance, she suggested an advert that might include “the opportunity to get fit and active, while working in the outdoors”.