Calving to Mating

Calving to mating is a busy stressful time for everyone involved. Keeping people informed and giving feedback is critical over this physically and mentally demanding time.

So too is offering support and acknowledging a job well done.  Take time out to say thank you and ask for input on how things could be done better.

Must do this season

  • Communicate regularly with staff; weekly staff meetings are a great idea.
  • Support staff.
  • Lead by example.
  • Monitor your health and your employees' health.


  • Make plans for mating – set and communicate objectives. Ensure everyone understands what success will look like and what is required to achieve this.
  • Holidays for Christmas and arrange cover.
  • Time for a performance review once calving and mating are out of the way.


  • Work as a unit and lead by example. Employers set the standard of behaviour and attitude so be positive and respectful, communicate constantly and work hard whilst ensuring you do take breaks to recharge and eat.
  • Keep talking and make sure everyone knows what needs to happen and what they are responsible for. A clear understanding within the team can avoid some of the breakdowns that occur during stressful times.         
    • Don’t stop team meetings and catch ups when things get busy, they are more important than ever and will actually save you time by everyone knowing what the priorities are.
  • Delegate areas of responsibility - be clear and concise with your team about their responsibilities for the calving period. Keep these visible on a whiteboard or poster in the dairy.
  • Look outside the square and support staff through this busy and demanding time.
    • Everyone needs three nutritious meals to get through the day. If your staff are too tired or aren’t capable of cooking, then put a system in place to ensure your staff get fed well.
  • Check in with staff regularly to make sure they are coping with the stress and longer hours.
  • Talk through important health and safety issues for this time of year. Accidents increase significantly when people are tired and busy, so put precautions in place to minimise hazards.
  • Watch for signs of stress or people not coping – the health and wellbeing of staff is very important at all times of the year, but the pressure of calving can accentuate problems.
  • Look for ways to reduce the physical load - lifting calves is fine for some but think about a ramp. Instead of carting milk by bucket maybe install a  pump to fill the calfeteria.
  • Remember to carry out orientation and reviews with new staff.
  • Thank your employees for their hard work and praise their efforts and success.


  • Review rosters and check in with all your employees to make sure the roster is working out.
  • Once calving is done, take time to look back over how things went and capture the lessons.
    • Debrief with the team about what changes you should make for next season.
    • Take time to celebrate the end of calving with a team dinner or outing. Remember to invite each employee’s family as they have also been a key part of the team.