As we enter into November, now is a good time of year for dairy farmers to start looking for staff for next spring.

Labour shortage within the agricultural sector is a significant issue, which is why if you need help on your farm for spring the search should start now.

Expansion within the dairy sector has meant that many farms now need more than one person working on the farm.

This is especially so during the busy spring-calving period which is the most labour intensive period on dairy farms.


For many, it might seem too early to begin looking for help for spring. However, what is likely to happen, is that everyone will start looking at the same time and this will make the task more difficult.

Because of this, it is a good idea to get ahead of of the crowd and begin the process of looking for help.

When looking for someone, it is important to clearly outline what their role will entail, and how long the employment will last.

On some farms the role may only be for the spring-calving period, and this should be made clear to any applicants.

There are also a number of other considerations such as a scheduled roster, allocating for time-off, and expected hours of work.

Although exact hours of work may be hard to determine during the spring, you should have a time set out for when work should stop.

A common system on many farms is a five days on and two days off rota, or 11 days on and three days off.

Developing or producing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for jobs on your farm, including feeding calves, milking and machine operation – is also useful.

This will ensure that the job is completed to the level you expect, and it will make it easier for the employee to understand and put into practice.

You can draw up and print off these SOPs to be placed in the most practical area; they may become useful in areas like the milking parlour when a relief milker is milking.

Type of labour

Before you begin your search, you need to firstly determine what kind of labour is going to suit you and your farm best.

Some may require a full-time staff member, while others might just need someone for a few months during spring.

But for others it could just be having someone to relief milk for them.

Determining what kind of labour you need should make it easier to identify the right candidate, but also ensure that anyone who applies is fully aware of the type of work.