Going away on your well-deserved summer holiday can be stressful. It is important to put policies in place so that everything runs smoothly while you are away. Here are some top tips to help prepare things for your workers and/or relief staff.
1. Keep it simple!
2. It’s a good idea to have new relief staff come do a milking or two before you go away to familiarise themselves with farm routine.
3. Complete a health and safety induction for any relief staff.
4. Make sure your neighbours knows you are going away. They can keep an eye out for anything unusual.
5. Leave instructions on the operation of the milking plant. It’s useful to do a ‘before milking’ and ‘after milking’ checklist.
6. Make sure everyone knows your standard operating procedures (SOP) around use of the backing gate, shed hygiene, teat spray etc.
7. Have a clear animal health plan in place. i.e. mastitis cases or lame cows. While you’re away, you should really run a separate herd for cows on antibiotics, if you don’t do so already. All animals under treatment need to be clearly marked; make sure the relief staff know the marking system for your farm.
8. Who should be the first point of contact if something goes wrong? You? The farm owner? Leave necessary contact numbers i.e. Vet, dairy company, QCONZ, neighbours or friends.
9. Set up an easy paddock rotation and instruction for feeding of supplements.
10. Ensure everyone knows to check troughs after getting cows in and before shutting the cows away. Check valves and water flow.
11. Have a plan in place for other stock on farm i.e. calves or beefies. Make sure they are checked daily i.e. any sick animals, trough issues.
Keep expectations realistic, relief staff will never do it exactly how you do it but having simple plans in place before you go will increase the chances of everything going smoothly so you can relax and enjoy your time off!