Everyone should take time away from the farm, especially now as farms begin to hum along with the bulk of breeding and field work completed.

The biggest worry for farmers leaving the farm for an extended period for a well-deserved holiday is things going wrong at home.

Steps can be taken to leave the transition to relief help as smooth as possible.

1. Standard operating procedure (SOP)

An standard operating procedure (SOP) is a clear guideline on how to complete routine tasks, the most common being milking.

A white board in the dairy or farm office outlines the routine practice of how to set up parlour and milk cows, the marking scheme from cows receiving antibiotics to prevent tank contamination, etc.

Some farmers have opted to take videos of SOPs and sent via Whatsapp to relief workers, so that they are easy to access on their phone.

2. Farm map and paddock labelling

A farm map is a great tool for your own farm management, but it is also a great way of communicating with staff or agri contractors.

Some farmers have farms professionally mapped and labelled, with pocket-sized maps, whiteboard maps for farm offices or A4 maps for tractors and 4x4s available.

If you don’t have the farm mapped, photocopying direct payment maps and marking out paddocks can work equally as well.

Again, professional paddock labels are available, but cheap and cheerful labels can be made by printing numbers on a number plate at a motor factor, cutting them up (for example P1, P2, P3) and screwing them to a fence post.

3. Training

Time spent training relief help is well spent. Making sure that relief help is comfortable with all task to be completed will put both their mind and yours at risk.

Relief help should be brought in and trained in plenty of time before you depart the farm; not the evening before.

Where you see the person being a long-term asset to the farm, investing in them by teaching them skills such as grass measuring will keep them motivated and feel they are benefitting from the work from more than just a financial sense.