Calving is one of the most stressful and busy times of year on a dairy farm. And while calf-health comes first – farmers and farm managers also have to think of the wellbeing of their staff.
So here’s few tips from Coast and Country News on how to help farm staff survive the calving season.
Get a couple of crockpots going at the cowshed kitchen. Staff are out in cold, wet weather for much of the day wrangling calves and cows in muddy conditions.
So if you have a hot, hearty meal or two waiting for them – so they can access it when they have chance – it will keep their energy levels up. Some farmers use pie warmers for the same task – and stack it with food that is warm and easy-to-eat on-the-go.
Make sure all staff have correct-fitting and useable wet weather gear because keeping warm and dry is key when calving means a long day in the rain. It doesn’t hurt for them to have an extra set of gumboots and extra jacket handy too. This could help ward off winter ills and chills.
Rosters – they are so important. While it is ‘all hands on deck’ at calving it is critical to have a roster – so you have back-up measures in place in case someone falls ill or gets injured. And if you roster staff so they can have some downtime or time-out, it will keep them refreshed and energized for work.
Get all staff up-to-date on what their tasks will be during calving; how all machinery and calving equipment is used; and how the calf kit is stocked and what to use for what job. If you’re all on the same page from the beginning it will make for smoother times ahead – especially if people are rostered on at different times etc.
Lastly, keep tempers to a minimum. Calving is a stressful time for all involved – so before flying off the handle over something, take a deep breath. It won’t solve anything criticising staff for what’s happened. Instead think of how it can be remedied, devise a solution with your team – and implement a new process if needed. The calving season rollercoaster is all about how you deal with the up and the downs.