PR – Labour Productivity – Effects Of Scale, Capital Investment And Adoption Of Novel Technology

This study investigated interrelationships among labour-use, scale of dairy enterprise, replacement of labour with capital investment, introduction of alternative management technologies and net farm profitability on a sample of Irish dairy farms. Farm labour input data were collected from 171 full-time dairy farmers, over a 2-year period. The farms were grouped into three categories; < 50 cows (small), 50-80 cows (medium) and > 80 cows (large). Financial analysis of the farms was carried out using the Moorepark Dairy Systems Model. Milking labour input data was recorded for both conventional and rotary parlours and a cost benefit analysis was conducted. The effect of altering milking frequency from twice a day (TAD) to once a day (OAD) over a full lactation was also examined from both productive and economic viewpoints. Small, medium and large farms had an average dairy labour input of 49.7, 42.2 and 29.3 h/cow/yr. Benefits of larger scale were reflected in terms of a reduced portion of total costs represented by labour (31%, 29% and 24%). Partial replacement of milking labour with a rotary milking parlour was economically viable for a herd size of 350 cows and OAD milking which reduced labour considerably reduced income by just €4,500. Thus, there is a critical need to accelerate a scale increase in dairy operations from the current average of 51 cows and to introduce investments and technology that would improve labour efficiency.

Keywords: capital investment on-farm, farm scale, labour replacement, labour requirement, milking frequency.

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Author(s): Butler, A.M., Gleeson, D., O'Brien, B., O'Donnell, S., O'Donovan, K., Shalloo, L.


Organizations(s): School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Teagasc, Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre, Fermoy, Co.Cork