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Late Lactation to Dry Off

Late lactation to dry off is typically a time when things start to slow down on farm so is the perfect time to incorporate practical on-farm training into everyday activities. Remember to structure these to challenge staff of all levels - perhaps senior staff could lead the sessions or be included in some of the seasonal budgeting.

Be organised and thorough in your approach to ensure you get the person with the best blend of skills, experience and attitude for your farm.

For many, recruitment of new staff is a key task this time of year. Don’t let this be a daunting task, use the QuickStart guides to help you through recruitment and selection and get started early so you can pick from the best candidates – as they say the early bird gets the worm!

Must do this season

  • Recruit new staff
  • Incorporate practical on-farm training into everyday activities
  • Plan time off for the dry period

Plan

  • Holidays for the dry period.
  • Rosters for the dry period - think outside the square, can you mix things up by having people milk only mornings or afternoons to give them some time off to enjoy with family and friends.
  • The work schedule and any repairs and maintenance or development projects in the months ahead. Will you need to arrange extra training for staff?
  • Consider and plan for any relief staff you will need to cover leave in the months ahead.

Do

  • Recruitment – now is the time to go through applications, shortlist applicants, organise and carry out interviews and make a selection. Use the QuickStart guides or HR Toolkit to help you through this process. If you are still unsure, consider getting support from a rural professional.
    • Involve other staff where possible. Ask employees to help you with the interview process or show applicants around the farm so you can see how the applicant might fit in with the team.
    • Consider a practical assessment as part of the interview process. This gives you a different insight into the applicant's attitude and skills compared to the formal interview.
  • Make sure staff are familiar with business plans and objectives for the remainder of the season.
  • Ask staff for open and honest feedback on how you are going as a boss. This can be an invaluable learning tool if you don’t take it too personally. Ask for suggestions on how you can do things better and make changes for the season ahead.
  • Hands on training – are there things happening around the farm you can use as training opportunities? Perhaps a see/do/teach session for identifying cows to dry off or cull. Or a discussion and practical session on treating lameness or condition scoring cows. Don’t forget to include aspects of all learning styles when teaching people how to do things.
  • Consider involving more senior staff in developing the winter/autumn feed budget or work through your Incalf Fertility Focus report as a team and then together set up the plan for calving.

Review

  • The season to date
  • Employee records - make sure they are all up to date and you have the right paperwork on hand for the new season
  • Training plans – is everyone on track to complete their training?  Have any new needs emerged?
  • Health and Safety policies - what has worked well and what needs improving?