As dairy herd sizes have increased and more and more drystock farming stems from part-time farmers, efficient use of your time is critical.

Quite often, a contractor will be able to complete a task much more efficiently.

Time spent on grass measuring, vaccinating and breeding will leave a better return on margins than time spent on a tractor that can be contracted out.

Contractors are able to invest in bigger and more efficient machinery due to the scale of work they complete.

From LESS to GPS spraying or fertiliser spreading, not only does the task get completed quicker, but it is also completed more efficiently through using the precision technology that contractors possess.

Working relationship

Many dairy farmers are now wisely using contractors to spread slurry using umbilical systems to reduce compaction with tankers or getting them to spread the first blanket application of fertiliser when they are still busy calving in spring.

A good working relationship with your contractor is essential. This means planning out work early to allow your contractor to work with you and your schedule.

Phone your contractor and let them know some weeks in advance what your task is and the quantity (acres of grass/ gallons of slurry).

Being accurate with the amount of work to be done will allow them to plan out their day.

If they have 10 customers to bale for in a day and each of the first nine have 10% more bales than they said they would, this leaves the contractor either working late to finish for the 10th customer or they get put off until the next day, further exasperating the problem.

Credit

Where work isn’t majorly time sensitive (hedge-cutting, dung spreading), farmers should be flexible in the time they allow contractors to carry out tasks.

Credit with contractors is a prickly subject, more so this year than any. They have seen their costs rise dramatically, mainly diesel and polythene.

Large contracting firms can burn literally thousands of euros of diesel in a single day. Contractors cannot be expected to act as a long-term source of credit in the current climate.

Timely payment or part payment for work will be appreciated by them and will be remembered in the future when you are seeking to get work completed by them.