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‘When I have the relief milker, I don’t have to stop a job to go milking’

The following article is published in Lakeland Dairies / Teagasc Joint Development Programme’s innovative and informative 28-page booklet.

The booklet contains recommendations, tips and case studies, aimed at making farm life easier for Lakeland Dairies’ milk suppliers.

Having a reliable relief milker is a key part of any dairy farm, especially in one-person operations to get quality time off. John Malone from Co. Westmeath discusses his current relief worker arrangements.

In the past, I relied on family members to carry out relief milking and extra farm work. Currently, I get a relief milker in two evenings a week on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I get the same person on weekends or when I go away on holidays.

I find having two evenings a week that I don’t have to milk is great. It allows me to finish other farm jobs such as slurry or sowing fertiliser. When I have the relief milker, I don’t have to stop a job to go milking. I often organise jobs such as fertiliser, washing, shed repairs etc. on the days when I have the relief milker in.

Also, I am able to enjoy hobbies and go away with my family and plan family trips away mid-week.

Having a consistent relief milker gives me the confidence that the job will be done correctly every time.

Options for relief milkers:

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  1. You might have a niece/or nephew who is looking to make money for college. Offer to train them up for weekend work;
  2. Ask another local farmer to do two milkings a week. Inform them the job is flexible and can be done anytime between 2pm to 6pm before or after school pick-ups;
  3. Shared milkers. It’s useful if a couple of farmers can come together in an area and share a relief milker;
  4. Always be on the lookout for relief staff. You never know who could be interested;
  5. Be open to the idea of training someone with no dairy experience. It is better than someone with bad experience and habits.

How to get the most out of your relief milker

A farm map in the dairy – This shows where the cows are grazing and where they will be grazing.

Simple instructions:

    • Any cow with red dump;
    • Any cow with yellow keep for calves;
    • Any cow with blue milk once daily AM.
  • Provide as much notice as possible for weekend work and for weeks when you are on holidays;
  • Be flexible with the milking start times. If it suits them to start the afternoon milking at 3pm, let them;
  • Be consistent with work – Offer at least 1 milking a month for them to remember the routine.
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