Opinion: Beware the poor work-life steadiness of dairy farming – Farmers


We now have lastly reached the fabled “quiet” time of 12 months on the farm.

We’ve completed calving till late August, the substitute heifers are weaned, the meat calves are all offered, and we’ve completed mating the spring herd.

But, by some means, I discover myself feeling extra careworn than ever.

A TB take a look at, a employees member off sick and my son’s nursery college closing with every week’s discover have all been contributing components.

See additionally: How dairy farmers can handle sector’s labour disaster

In regards to the creator

Liz Haines

Farmers Opinion author

Liz Haines and her husband, Nick, milk 320 spring-calving cows in a contract farming association in north Shropshire. She can also be an elected member of the AHDB dairy sector council.

I used to be resulting from go away for a weekend with my mum, however sadly she was unwell and we didn’t make it.

A part of me breathed a sigh of reduction, considering it might no less than give me a few days to make amends for some paperwork.

After practically 10 years of being on the farm full time, the sensation of regularly chasing my tail is one thing I’ve grown used to, however by no means actually come to phrases with.

I went into dairy farming having seen my husband’s expertise on a block-calving farm in New Zealand the place, after the hectic spring interval, there was remarkably little to do and it was really attainable to get bored.

I imagined we’d replicate this method within the UK and have the identical work-life steadiness, with extra free time for hobbies and holidays.

For a lot of causes (extra advanced farm layouts, cows housed for longer over winter, higher use of bought-in feed, to call a couple of), I now perceive this degree of simplicity can be tough to realize right here.

However I nonetheless consider it shouldn’t be a serious ordeal to go away the farm for a couple of days every so often, and have time throughout the week to go to an train class or meet up with a good friend.

There may be nonetheless a tradition of pleasure in working extreme hours on farms right here, and a reluctance to embrace completely different working rotas equivalent to “10 on, 4 off” that are widespread in New Zealand.

They require extra employees (I do realise how tough recruitment is on the minute), and higher coaching and communication amongst groups to make sure consistency, no matter which employees are engaged on a selected day.

However I feel that is the path we have now to maneuver in if we need to sustain with the instances.

Agriculture has considered itself as an distinctive case and made excuses for too lengthy about why we have to work such lengthy hours.

Veterinary practices and zoos each contain taking care of animals, however handle to function shift patterns for his or her employees.

That stated, as a enterprise proprietor, I’ve to simply accept that if I need to succeed I’ve to place within the laborious yards.

I don’t know any profitable entrepreneurs who haven’t needed to work loopy hours sooner or later of their careers to get their companies off the bottom.

However at instances when every thing feels overwhelming, it helps to step again and keep in mind the larger image.

To paraphrase Antoine de Saint Exupéry: “If you wish to construct a ship, don’t begin by slicing timbers, however train folks to dream of the deep and infinite sea.”

For me, the deep and infinite sea is the dream of proudly owning our personal farm.

After I image it in my head, the every day stresses soften away and I really feel re-energised to sort out one other day.