The labour market has changed greatly in recent years. It is getting harder to find staff to work on farms as competition from other sectors intensifies. Within agriculture, we are seeing an increasing gap between between what farmers want and what farm workers want. With the nature of farming, many farmers want ‘ad hoc labour’ whereas the market want stable permanent full-time work.

With the jobs market currently being highly competitive, labour resources are in short supply. The farm needs to be an attractive and positive place to work. To achieve this, farmers must look at their labour resourcing and shift from short-term into the long-term planning. Farmers need to critically assess their working environment and communication style. Also make steps to improve to attract and retain labour resources that will develop with the business.  

Advantages to long term labour

There are many advantages to long-term labour resourcing. Farmers can create a plan that will be beneficial all year round and allow much needed time off. Firstly, look at which tasks to outsource. This can be for on-farm workers or contractors coming in to carry out a specific task. Doing this will add value to any workers’ time.

Add value to your farm

It is recommended for farmers to focus on what adds the most value to their farm. Asses current skills and determine the best use of time. This is crucial to adding to the positive effects generated by having an extra pair of hands on-farm. For example, more time spent on calf rearing means calves are more tightly monitored, illnesses like scours and pneumonia are more likely to be noticed earlier. Calves are also more likely to receive more colostrum at the right time, feeding is more likely to be adequate and more time is available to ensure bedding is clean and comfortable. All of this means less losses, better performance, faster live weight gain and earlier weaning – all lower costs and replacement heifers are far more likely to be on target for calving down at less than 24 months.

Better management

Farmers can also develop their own management skills. Ensure the farm has standard operating procedures, clear instructions and give all workers a proper induction. This reduces the risk of accident, injury, or damage. Good management and communication skills will help provide a good employment experience and help retain staff. Having good working facilities can also help.

Planning ahead

Lastly, long term planning can help create and maintain a monthly budget plan and cash-flow. This will benefit farmers as they can identify key costs and reflect their yearly outputs.

Farming is a multi-skilled role requiring milking, animal husbandry, machinery and grassland management skills at a minimum, which are in demand. If you have these skills and have an interest becoming an FRS operator, contact your local office on 0818 980 980 or register your interest online:

Farmers should talk to FRS and consider a ‘shared operator’ approach where FRS can arrange for an operator to be shared between 2 or more farms on a year-round basis. This has the dual positive effect of sharing the cost of an operator between farmers and helping to guarantee more year-round work for the operator. Contact FRS Farm Relief to talk through your labour requirements.

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