Two projects undertaken for DairyCo on 2007/08 and 2008/09 have examined in detail dairy farm labour productivity.
The first project developed a standard methodology for measuring and analysing labour-inputs to dairy farming and provided the first step towards performance benchmarking for dairy labour.
Piloting this Labour Productivity Monitoring Tool on eight farms demonstrated that labour inputs to key tasks varies significantly between dairy units, ranging for example from less than 100 minutes milking/1000 litres to almost 250 minutes milking/1000 litres. Total labour costs per 1000 litres of milk sold varied from just over £33 for the most efficient farms to between £70 and £80 for the least efficient.
The second project took this methodology and applied it to 24 dairy farms in the north west of England, as well as collecting detailed farm data on each of these. The project developed a range of efficiency measures for on-farm labour use, and tested these against the detailed analysis of labour achieved through the Labour Productivity Monitoring Tool.
Alongside this, guidance was drafted on the measurement and interpretation of labour use data, and on the possible solutions to remove bottlenecks in labour efficiency.
These labour productivity projects undertaken for DairyCo will, we hope, be developed in time into a support package for UK dairy farmers so that they can get the most out of their paid labour resource.