Famer Focus: Addressing labour costs with a reshuffle

The past month has seen quite a few changes made at Lower Wood and we have really focused on how we want to take the business forward.

A recent budget provided to the bank for the next two years made us realise, when coupled with the continued variability in the milk price, that we really needed to take a look at a few areas of cost. 

Labour, in particular, already felt expensive before looking at the eye-watering figure we were set to spend next year.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, a few changes have been made taking us down from two to one full-time employee supplemented by a team of good relief milkers and a very good student who is doing two days a week.

See also: Australian dairy farm hits 11 labour hours a cow a year

From my perspective, perhaps focusing on staff strengths and also being prepared to delegate, rather than do everything myself, are good things.

I am sure there will always be ups and downs on this front, but it does feel good to have a good team in place and it’s amazing what it does for morale.

Creating a brand sounds naff (don’t worry, I haven’t swallowed a management handbook), but I do think it’s important to do little things to ensure people enjoy working for you, and we’re currently looking into providing workwear so everyone feels part of a team.

I have to say – and I might be biased – but dairy farming is a pretty good job for young people. It offers a good level of pay and guaranteed hours, and I think it does get some undeserved bad press.

I must also thank Mum, Dad and Rhian, who have worked pretty hard in the past month to keep things ticking.

We are just about to enter silly season. The fertiliser is on and so far, first cut and the wheat crops are looking good.

We have let some dry cows and in-calf heifers out to graze too. Our silage stocks have just about survived and I am really looking forward to getting stuck into maize groundwork and the prospect of first cut.

Fingers crossed the weather is kind.

Read more about Shropshire farmer Henry Wilson