Farm policies, procedures and rules


2 min read

What’s the difference? Every farm needs the following: Getting started How to ensure everyone follows the farm rules

Effective policies, procedures, and rules are crucial for dairy farms. Policies provide guiding principles, procedures outline steps for specific tasks, and rules state what to do or avoid in certain situations. Important written policies cover Health and Safety, Code of Conduct, Animal Welfare, and Effluent, while procedures include effluent management, mastitis control, calving, and more. Engage the whole team in creating these documents to ensure they are understood and followed. Regularly review and update them, involve employees in the process, and use them for training and disciplinary procedures. A Farm Policy Manual can centralize all documents for easy access.

Set out how work is to be completed in your business with clear, documented policies, procedures and rules.

Using effective policies, procedures and rules together, empowers your team to deliver great results and constantly improve on those results. The best ones are those your employees actually use - so keep them simple.

What’s the difference?

  • A policy is a guiding principle used to explain the ‘way things are done around here’.
  • A procedure is a series of steps to be followed to accomplish an end result.
  • A rule is a statement about what to do, or not to do, in a specific situation.

Every farm needs the following:

Written policies for Health and Safety, Code of Conduct, Animal Welfare and Effluent. Other useful policies include Weed Control, Drug and Alcohol, Confidentiality and Equipment.

Written procedures for key tasks such as effluent management, mastitis control, managing lameness, calving, milking (including vat cleaning, chilling and pipework), pasture management and supplementary feeding.

A basic set of farm rules which can be decided on by the whole team and displayed on the dairy wall. These rules help the team keep one another accountable and make it easier to raise health and safety concerns in team meetings.

Getting started

Draw up a template for each policy, procedure or rule. Include a title, why it is needed or useful, whom it affects, when it is to be followed, what the policy or procedure is, and include a space for comments.

Create a farm policy manual where all policies, procedures and rules are filed. Keep at least one copy in the farm dairy so all employees can easily access it.

Get everyone in your team involved in creating the policies, procedures and rules. They will have some great ideas, it will save you time, and most importantly it will help everyone to feel part of the process, meaning people are more likely to live by the outcomes. Use clear language that everyone can understand.

Policies and procedures should be reviewed at least once a year to check they are still up to date. Specific policies and procedures should also be reviewed following any incidents or accidents which relate to them.

Examples of a manual, policies, rules and a written farm procedure are available in the 
resource library.

See how you can use visual app-based farm procedures.

Use them to:

  • Set expectations for behaviour and how tasks should be completed.
  • Train new staff about your farm system or the infrastructure operation.
  • Ensure your employees understand the way you want to run your business.
  • Refresh existing staff on how to complete seasonal or uncommon tasks.
  • Refer to during disciplinary procedures.

How to ensure everyone follows the farm rules

Ideally, farm policies or rules are discussed during the recruitment process and a written copy is given to the successful applicant, along with the employment agreement. This should also refer them to the farm policy manual for further information. This will mean potential employees know your expectations upfront and will help deter those who have a different view of the world to you.

Regular reviewing and discussing of your farm rules, allows people to have them front of mind. If people are simply not following the agreed policies or rules, then you can follow a performance management process or a disciplinary process if the breaches are serious.

If you have issues with people not following rules, and you currently have no system in place to deal with this, then your best option is to meet with your employees and develop a farm policy manual. Communicate your expectations clearly and ensure they are understood, but also ensure others have the opportunity for input. If your team feels part of the process you are much more likely to be successful in achieving your goals.

Last updated: Sep 2023

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