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Contract milking?

Last post Fri, Apr 29 2011 8:53 by rotary50. 24 replies.
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  • Mon, Apr 18 2011 13:44

    • rotary50
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    Contract milking?

    I would appreciate anyone's opinion of contract milking i have entered into an agreement 9 months ago and things seem to be going horribly wrong,my worst nightmare!!!!is any one successfully managing to enjoy whilst on this type of agreement?????

  • Mon, Apr 18 2011 13:52 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     Could you elaborate on the arrangement, and what is going wrong

    Dan

  • Mon, Apr 18 2011 21:05 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    • west wales

    Re: Contract milking?

    Well i'm paid per litre but have no control over feeding and was basically told when i entered into it that the cows were fed 8kg as fresh cows weaning down gradually to being 200+days in calf out on grass being fed 3kg at the least but now am being told that because of feed costs they are to rely on grass then as far as fertility goes i started last august and was told there was 12 cows empty out of 230 which i thought wasn't bad but as i got settled in the number rose to 43 and they were carried into this season so between everything i am losing money big style on a 365 day contract and struggling to pay a relief to come in and cover any time off.I have also struggled with conception rates all winter with it sitting on average 23% so trying to keep the cows from slipping on any further has been a hell of a struggle but it looks like i will have managed to pull the bulk back a month and finished serving 3 weeks earlier than the previous year being the only plus at the moment surely there must be something i can do because technically they are breaking the current agreement.
  • Mon, Apr 18 2011 21:17 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     Seems to be completely unfeasible to pay you per litre, but not allow you to feed the cows.

    This appears to be a poorly thought out agreement from the start, and it seems that without being able to feed for it, the only way you could increase yields would be to tighten the calving interval, but this can often take years to properly sort out, so 365 seems to be too short - is it a rolling contract?  Granted there are many factors that affect fertility, but the main ones seem to be out of your control - breeding, feeding etc, so I suppose you can only really focus on getting the cows into the best possible condition to keep them able to express genetic potential - simple things like feet.

    How much control do you have over the cows, are you actually just milking them, or are you managing them?

    Also, what Service system are you using - Stock bull, DIY AI, Tecnician, RMS?

    Dan

  • Mon, Apr 18 2011 21:34 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    I am supposed to have full control i was brought in to fully manage the cows and the unit really but yet i am being held back on the feeding which to me is the most important factor,we use a technician i do all the tail painting,heat detection and choose the bulls so that side of things is fine and i can guarantee you that i am not only in the game for the money all i want is a fair wage for my efforts,i also manage the grazing platform and i am cuurently weaning them off cake completely but still managing to 22 litres of a kg of cake and the cows are holding their condition but am afraid if weather changes for the worst and when the quality in the grass starts to fall thats when the *** will hit the fan as far as milk in the tank goes,fertility for the coming season and condition of the cows.

  • Mon, Apr 18 2011 22:34 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     I must be honest, I don't like the system of paying staff based on litres in the tank, it encourages staff to push the cows hard to produce marginal litres, which is unlikely to be in the best interests of anyone, and I feel that you are stuck in an agreement that may have been destined to fail.

    Looks to me as if it may be the right time to have a chat with the farmer about the direction of the herd.  Try to find out the targets that the owner has for his cows, be it high production, long life, high constituents, good fertility - as you well know, these can drastically change how cows are managed and bred.

    You appear to be in a typical employer/employee situation, with the employer wanting to put measures in place to ensure you don't mess up, but possibly basing some of these on factors outside your control.  But dairying has so many influencing factors that payment based on performance is challenging to make work in any situation.

    Am I right in thinking there are only 3 months left on the contract? Maybe try and discuss a different method of payment for after the end, Salary, with bonuses for acheiving pre-determined targets?

    I never thought you were in the game solely for the money, if you were you wouldn't be in farming.

    Dan

  • Tue, Apr 19 2011 20:14 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    yes your right only three months left but unfortunately being employed is the only other option because of the new rules with being self employed and working for one employer and farmers don't like having to pay holiday pay or the contribution as far as national insurance goed all i want is a fair deal because i really enjoy the cows just looking for a fair package to go with it you know.

  • Tue, Apr 19 2011 22:02 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     Is employment such a bad option?  Surely if you have done a good job over the last 9 months the farmer will want to keep you, farmers round here will bend over backwards to retain a good herdsman.

    The biggest factor in decideing whether you are self employed is risk, and the possibility of ending up with nothing if something goes wrong.

    You appear to want stability, so is self employment really the best option?

    Dan

  • Thu, Apr 21 2011 9:03 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

    i fully understand why you want to remain self employed, many owners are looking for an easy option to avoid NI tax complications and holiday pay and it gives you the sense of remaining your own boss and all the power to you. the problem i see is that this contract is purely a ppl basis and i doubt if this is a viable long term option, is the owner open to paying an hourly/weekly/monthly rate variable to reflect peak and troughs in work load, and you providing some machinery thus avoiding the 'employment' issue. only talking about maybe the quad and trailer, a little electric fencing equip, a quad fert spreader, fairly cheap everyday stuff. what ever route u choose chat to your accountant about your own and the owner's tax implications.
  • Thu, Apr 21 2011 9:10 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    I have 3 offers of other self employed positions but my accountant tells me it is actually looked upon as fraud by hmrc now if you work for the same full time you either have to contract milk and employ your own relief or be employed but the guy i milk for share farms with someone else here and he is 71 so he says employing someone at is age would create too much extra paper work for one as much as he wants me to stay it isn't an option,and you can have stability being self employed i worked for the same farm for 6 years when mum and dad packed the milking up and was very happy there but they retired and thought i would try my hand at the contract milking but got a very unfair contract in my eyes so wanting stability is the problem at all.

    Matt.

  • Thu, Apr 21 2011 9:17 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    I do already run the bike i.e petrol and servicing,and i have supplied my own whoppa foot crush and all tools,so i feel i am doing everything i can but aren't getting a fair deal in the changes they seem free to make regarding feed rate and milking empty cows for a whole season then trying to get them in calf early in the next season loses me a massive amount of milk it seems unfair to me because if they were replaced with either heifers which we are short of or freshly calved bought in cows then the package would be alot more attractive.

  • Thu, Apr 21 2011 11:26 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     Do you intend to stay on at the current farm on a different agreement, or leave and go somewhere new?

  • Thu, Apr 21 2011 13:02 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

    If youre not happy there and still want to be self employed, try applying for a position with LKL- Im a herd manager, self employed, LKL, no problems with HMRC, all above board and theres a few hundred doing the same.

  • Fri, Apr 22 2011 9:06 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    well i'd like to stay on here but it depends really on what happens in the forth coming months,they are good people but i suppose with them being in a share agreement as well they are on a tighter margin than most

  • Fri, Apr 22 2011 9:11 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    ah right yes i have heard of them i have met up with a guy from there called trevor jolley a couple of years ago,the only thing most say about agencies like that and i don't mean to offend is that they charge the farmer lets say 32,000 for a 300 cow herd but the herdsman may only see 27,000 or less what do you actually get from lkl for that say 5,000 not alot from what i have heard makes you wander if you'd be better off dealing direct with the farm.I don't have any personal experience with them so thats only what i've heard.

  • Fri, Apr 22 2011 12:32 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     You seem like you are nearly there on sorting out a self emloyed position where you are, with only 2 minor issues that I can see.

    The first I can see is only working for one person - Possible solution: you say you have a Wopa crush and foot trimming tools, many farmers now outsource routine foot trimming, make sure you are NACFT qualified and foot trim a couple of smaller local herds, you may only spend 4-6 days a year doing this, leaving plenty of time for the herd managing job, but gets you round the technicalities of employment.

    The other is the pay issue - May be a bit more tricky, you need to ensure that you are paid based on doing a job, rather than an hourly rate to avoid having to be employed, but to ensure you are getting a fair deal it needs to reflect the amount of work required.  I myself would favour a payment of £x per cow, per year / day, + a simple bonus scheme to reward effort and achievement based on the goals of the farm. e.g a payment of £x per extra litre produced from forage, a payment of £x per extra cow in calf over the previous system.

    What I meant earlier about stability was meant to be more subtle than moving employers regularly and a hugely fluctuating income, more, things like a problem causing you to be late finishing in the evening because you have to finish a job, rather than going home at a set time, whether the job is done or not.

    I hope I may have been of some help to you.

    Dan

  • Fri, Apr 22 2011 14:17 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    Yes you have i appreciate all the different thoughts that people have brought up and i suppose as you say even if i invoiced him seperately for the foot trimming and did a few others here and there it would be enough to break that continuous payment for fixed hours so to speak.

  • Fri, Apr 22 2011 17:05 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

    agree with farmer dan, the foot trimming route is the obvious start as your equiped for it giving you the other income streams. surely if your invoicing the owners monthly at a varying rate per month that will also avoid the employment issue arising. best of luck anyway.
  • Fri, Apr 22 2011 22:17 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    Re: Contract milking?

    Thanks to all you guys as well for all your advice

  • Sat, Apr 23 2011 10:10 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     On your mention of what LKL take out of a contract, Im afraid you are totally wrong with your figures- LKL only take what roughly an employer would pay in national insurance etc for a full time employee, say £800/1000?? per contract year, depending on salary. The individual area manager, like Trevor Jolley, negoitiates this directly with the farmer, leaving the herdsperson with their agreed salary.

  • Sat, Apr 23 2011 15:04 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    • west wales

    Re: Contract milking?

    Not to get into an arguement or anything but i know for fact that a friend of our family uses LKL and he pays them 30,000 for their service and their herdsman earns 25,000 so i am afraid that your may have been miss led on this one that may be a one off but that is truth because i have seen the contracts maybe it varies with the contract price i don't know.Just my opinion which i'm entitled to but also backed up with true fact.

  • Thu, Apr 28 2011 11:12 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     im afraid you are totally wrong still! quote-not to get into an arguement or anything like- just asked the guy who i work for via lkl and those figures i quoted are just about right. i notice on here you quite often spout on about all sorts, very often a lot of it is wrong- and as soon as somebody contradicts you, you dont like it- quote-im not being funny mate- could that be thats why things dont seem to go right with the cows- you dont listen, think you know it all and are too ready to blame somebody else- how old are you, about 55 judging on the experience you recon you have- not. if you want to ask advice on here, its not the best place, too many people havnt a clue what theyre doing with cows today, hence the numbers getting sold. you need to get yourselves a good consultant, not from Promar or Kite either, or youll be selling soon by the sounds of it. quote- thats just my opinion and im entitled to it, mate, so have a nice day.

  • Thu, Apr 28 2011 12:16 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    • west wales

    Re: Contract milking?

    Hey i'm very sorry mate if i have offended you,i think you have got me totally wrong i come on here to listen to everyone's opinion and i agree with you that not all of it is worth listening to but you do get the odd person who does actually sound like they are doing the job right,i'm 32 and have been milking cows from a young age but i don't think i'm a know it all maybe it comes across that i am and hey i apologise for that i have just managed to get the farm here to employ me on a full time basis which is better all round so maybe i'm not doing such a bad job after all?and i am a bit annoyed that suggest otherwise but thats your own opinion i have read alot of your posts and judging from them you do have alot of experience so i applaude that how old are you just out of interest not that age has any part to do with the amount of experience a person can have in his field.And the farm here don't use any sort of consultant maybe that could be the problem nobody to actually listen to? And i apologise again if i offended you

  • Thu, Apr 28 2011 20:32 In reply to

    Re: Contract milking?

     Well Done on the employment front.  Hope it all goes well.

  • Fri, Apr 29 2011 8:53 In reply to

    • rotary50
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    • Joined on Sun, Jul 12 2009
    • west wales

    Re: Contract milking?

    Cheers dan i'm glad it worked out in the end because i didn't really want to move on after such a short time my wage is still based upon pence per litre but will be paid as a fixed monthly wage anything i produce over the 6500 litre mark will be paid as an end of year bonus so i'm very happy with the outcome thanks again for all your advice you seem to very busy commenting lately i have enjoyed reading some of the rest as well.[The 6500 litres comes from grass/forage i.e silage in the winter and 1200kg of cake per cow before anyone jumps in and critisises me for low yields] so the system is fairly simple and works well its getting past the problem of grazing too much autumn grass is my next hurdle!!!!

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