Years ago, I can remember several people of all ages stopping by every month to turn in applications, hoping to get hired by our farm. Now we rarely have people show up wanting an application anymore.
What are some of the reasons for this? Maybe people would rather just fill out applications or turn in resumes to online databases that are sent to many different companies that are hiring. Or maybe, there are fewer and fewer people who want to do this type of work. Also, it could be that farmers usually cannot hire people for a substantial amount of money.
The labor pool for farms is not just an issue here. I have heard many people around the country having issues hiring help around farms. What can we do about this? Some people have had to go to the extreme and sell out just because of the shortage of help. Some farmers are working more hours than in the past to complete the everyday tasks with less help. We have felt the burden of not being able to find help and at times, it definitely becomes tiring or troublesome.
Because of the labor issues, we switched from a parlor to robotic milking. We moved our older heifers into different paddocks that are side by side and have feeding troughs all in a row to make it more time efficient to feed them. We now have decided to move our calves from hutches that are halfway across the farm back to the center of the farm under a barn, in head-to-head stalls. This will cut down calf feeding time tremendously.
We are continuously trying to figure out ways to be more time efficient because of the labor issues that do not seem to be going away any time soon. In fact, it looks as if it could only get worse. I’ve heard people say in the past that technology and robotics are taking away jobs, but honestly, I couldn’t disagree more for our line of work. It has gotten to the point that we are forced into robotics to keep going with less and less help because of the lack of people wanting to do the work.
Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.