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Thread: How to get time off

  1. #1

    Default How to get time off

    So, I understand that dairy farming is 365 days a year, and for many 12-14 hours a day. I really enjoy farming, don't want to quit, but I get about two days off a year and to do that I have to start planning about month in advance. So, my question is has anyone on here managed to set the dairy up that allows the owner time off? Do you operate a large or small dairy? Lately I day dream of selling the herd and moving to Florida for the winter and working on a dairy down there til spring and buying back cows, anyone done that? Or renting out the farm? I'm a small dairy, and I have been told that most owners have to have about 500 cows before they can get away from the day to day, do you agree?

  2. #2
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    Nov 2015
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    We milk 150 cows and just recently built a freestall and retrofitted a parlor in the tiestall barn. We went to 3x milking mainly for the reason we would be able to hire somebody full time that would know how everything works so that we could take days off or just simply spend time in the field that would normally have been spent in the barn. Just myself, dad and one full time employee. One person per milking. I feed cows once per day in the morning and if I won't be there the next morning I feed double.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    114

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    We milk 150 cows and just recently built a freestall and retrofitted a parlor in the tiestall barn. We went to 3x milking mainly for the reason we would be able to hire somebody full time that would know how everything works so that we could take days off or just simply spend time in the field that would normally have been spent in the barn. Just myself, dad and one full time employee. One person per milking. I feed cows once per day in the morning and if I won't be there the next morning I feed double.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Jul 2014
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    South West Victoria , Australia
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    Good topic . For relatively small farms I think it's trickier .

    We only milk 240 and I have a top young guy who does a great job . Trouble is it becomes quite costly at $25 per hour , especially in the current environment. You wouldn't get anyone good for less here .

    I have a friend who owns an 800 cow operation in a partnership with his brother so there is always one of them there when the other takes time . Quite a good arrangement I've often thought .

    You often hear the negative with partnerships , but that has to be good . Get away and smell the roses for a bit .

    This weekend l'm going deer hunting and the wife and son will be milking !
    "Those people who say they have no time for bodily exercise will soon have to find time for illness ". Joseph Pilates

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Kaukauna WI
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    Quote Originally Posted by always something View Post
    So, I understand that dairy farming is 365 days a year, and for many 12-14 hours a day. I really enjoy farming, don't want to quit, but I get about two days off a year and to do that I have to start planning about month in advance. So, my question is has anyone on here managed to set the dairy up that allows the owner time off? Do you operate a large or small dairy? Lately I day dream of selling the herd and moving to Florida for the winter and working on a dairy down there til spring and buying back cows, anyone done that? Or renting out the farm? I'm a small dairy, and I have been told that most owners have to have about 500 cows before they can get away from the day to day, do you agree?
    Answer to your last question is at least 500. Lack of time off is the biggest reason we are exiting dairying next year. My husband has had about 10 days off total in the last 20 years.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2011
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    Saskatchewan
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    We milk 340, raise all the young stock and dry cows too, just under 800 head in total. Double 12 parlour, 2x milking. We do all our own fieldwork as much as possible, hire in some help cleaning corrals and hired out corn chopping this year, was our first time growing it.

    We have 6 of us full time and permanent. Two others basically full time, and three other part time students. This allows for significant quality of life in my opinion. Those of us full time work ten days on, four days off (long weekend every other weekend). Two others are basically Monday to Friday. Moves into more like 12 days on, two days off for my dad and brother and I when fieldwork is in full swing.

    We likely spend more than average (?) on labour but are the third generation living the dream while feeding the world and able to provide a decent living wage and quality of life for everyone involved. Best of luck finding some balance

  7. #7
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    Jul 2015
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    Orient, SD
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    I agree with the 500 cows deal. We milked 650 in California and that was the life ( excluding the financial struggles of dairying in Ca, which is why we moved). Now milking 230, it's hard to get time to do anything. The plan here is to grow. I can't imagine doing a small dairy all my life. I grew up dairying and always having employees. It's nice being able to go out for Christmas dinner with family an hour away and not worry about feeding or milking in the morning.

    In reality it's to each their own. What do you really want to enjoy yourself. For me, I prefer large herd so I can have my cows and travel too. A small herd, I feel like you'd have to luck out and find you 2.0 to take over while you're gone. Not a fan of the idea of selling cows and buying them back (or different ones). Sounds like a disaster and massive headache.

  8. #8
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    There are a few here milking with their brothers or some other family member. That seems to work well for them. I would just as soon shoot myself than go into partnership with my brother-in-law. My own brothers were smart and have nothing to do with dairy.

    I agree with Lead Cow with the $25 in order to find a real good guy. We fired our employee on Oct 31 for cow abuse & him wanting every weekend off was the last straw. Now we are paying a guy $13 who speaks no English whatsoever, is good with cows but has more "great stories" than I care to deal with. God help us as we enter our final year, it will be a long one. I would gladly pay an excellent worker $25 but no one wants to work.

  9. #9
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    Feb 2013
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    1,294

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    The bottom line is there isn't a lot of time off to had owning a dairy.

    Getting into a parlor/freestall from a tie stall was the biggest change tward time savings in my lifetime. This business will wear you out, no question. Making it fun is about all a guy can do.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    140

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    Quote Originally Posted by always something View Post
    So, I understand that dairy farming is 365 days a year, and for many 12-14 hours a day. I really enjoy farming, don't want to quit, but I get about two days off a year and to do that I have to start planning about month in advance. So, my question is has anyone on here managed to set the dairy up that allows the owner time off? Do you operate a large or small dairy? Lately I day dream of selling the herd and moving to Florida for the winter and working on a dairy down there til spring and buying back cows, anyone done that? Or renting out the farm? I'm a small dairy, and I have been told that most owners have to have about 500 cows before they can get away from the day to day, do you agree?
    Taking the winter off sounds like seasonal calving is what you really want. That takes a higher level of management and planning but it can be done.

    I am right at 500 cows and there are 7 of us. I do take time off but I would rather go to the barn everyday. We milk 3x (started at around 250 cows) so everyone can have time off and still have people that know what is going on. The other 6 people here all have 1 set day per week off and can have as much time as they need whenever they want, as long as they ask in advance. I don't milk near as much as I used to but fill in for anyone that wants extra time off.

    I do the bulk of the feeding, breeding, cow health, and bookwork.

    Teamviewer is my best friend if I go away to log into dairycomp. I can print lists or review individual milk weights remotely


    www.dairyhack.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Just a little under 500 cows here. I take every weekend off, for the most part and one or two vacations every year. Of course I'm always on call. I don't do much with the crops so those long days of harvest don't pertain to me. I have a herdsman that prefers to have every Friday off only (and actually works a lot of Fridays as he is into making as much money as possible). You could say that every generation works less. My grandfather didn't know what time off was. My dad thought he was doing pretty good when he was able to take every other weekend off. I'm content with weekends off. It's all about having a staff that you can trust. Yeah, sometimes they make mistakes when I'm not around, but for the most part they do a great job where I can be content that I won't have many disasters on my hands on Monday mornings.

    When I benchmark my labor costs, I'm somewhere in the middle to a little higher than average. But I'm willing to pay for having time off.

  12. #12
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    Dec 2008
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    Bluecreek, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dairyhack View Post
    Taking the winter off sounds like seasonal calving is what you really want. That takes a higher level of management and planning but it can be done.
    I've heard a lot of the smaller organic dairies milk seasonally, so much so that co-ops like Organic Valley pay a premium for milk produced during Jan-Feb-Mar.

    My wife worked on a 1,000 cow conventional seasonal dairy, so it can be done on a larger scale too I suppose. They would shoot for calving in March and April.

  13. #13
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    The OP is talking about selling the herd every fall & buying cows back in the spring.

    That is quite different than seasonal.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cousinit View Post
    The OP is talking about selling the herd every fall & buying cows back in the spring.

    That is quite different than seasonal.
    That is one idea he had, but I honestly don't think it would work very well. Who knows what cattle prices could do over the winter? Sometimes come Spring, he may get a deal. Other times he may pay dearly. If it was a one time thing, it might work. But I think long term, it wouldn't be worth it.

    But since the OP also asked, "So, my question is has anyone on here managed to set the dairy up that allows the owner time off?", I thought seasonal might be a good compromise. Yes, there is always cows to take care of, but it's easier to get someone to watch them for a bit if milking isn't involved.

  15. #15

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    The selling cows and buying back would be a one time deal cuz Im getting desperate. So, if I want frequent time off I got to add hundreds of cows? Gosh, it might be worth it!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Central Valley California
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    I have a son working for me and a good herdsman so I can get away as much as I want. We still don't go away that much though. Most everyone I know around my area that owns the dairy has good employees so they can get away as often as they like.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElJefe View Post
    Just a little under 500 cows here. I take every weekend off, for the most part and one or two vacations every year. Of course I'm always on call. I don't do much with the crops so those long days of harvest don't pertain to me. I have a herdsman that prefers to have every Friday off only (and actually works a lot of Fridays as he is into making as much money as possible). You could say that every generation works less. My grandfather didn't know what time off was. My dad thought he was doing pretty good when he was able to take every other weekend off. I'm content with weekends off. It's all about having a staff that you can trust. Yeah, sometimes they make mistakes when I'm not around, but for the most part they do a great job where I can be content that I won't have many disasters on my hands on Monday mornings.

    When I benchmark my labor costs, I'm somewhere in the middle to a little higher than average. But I'm willing to pay for having time off.
    Your situation sounds ideal!

  18. #18

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    well, good news, my neighbor texted me wanting to know how much time off he would have to give me for exclusive hunting rights to my property!

  19. #19
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    Apr 2011
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    Central Valley California
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    Sounds like a deal.

  20. #20
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    Saskatchewan
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    That could be quite the deal! Just his own personal use or would he be outfitting/guiding?

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