The new dairy season started last Monday, cows are dried off and the rhythm of the working day changes.
For a couple of months dairy workers (at least those on farms which aren’t on town supply which milk all year round) don’t have to get up before dawn for milking. Instead they observe more civilised hours feeding out, catching up on maintenance and other off-season work.
Then, calving starts in early August and it’s back to the early starts.
Starting the season in June allows new staff to be inducted over winter, although neither they nor their employers really know how they’ll go until the pressure of calving goes on.
It’s not uncommon for workers to leave during or after calving because they realise the job isn’t for them.
This year, thanks to the 90 day trial period, dairy farmers who took on new workers at the start of the season will have the option of terminating employment if they aren’t suitable.
Calving usually reaches its peak in the second or third week of August. Given the time and effort involved in recruiting and inducting new staff, employers won’t exercise the 90-day clause lightly, let alone during the busiest time of the year.