To help you make an effective Coronavirus plan to safeguard the welfare of your staff and cattle, we share important things you will need to consider.
1) First and foremost, follow all the government advice when it comes to social distancing including whilst at work and ensure that staff wash hands upon arrival to the farm and regularly throughout the day. Observe a minimum 2 metre distance and catch coughs and sneezes in disposable tissues.
2) Identify any staff who are at greater risk and monitor staff health.
3) Communicate with staff all new protocols, maintaining distancing rules etc.
4) Provide good hygiene facilities for handwashing etc.
5) Give staff a letter on headed paper confirming they are a key worker and what their job is in case they are stopped by the police.
6) Consider staggered meal breaks so that staff are not in close quarters together.
7) Make an emergency plan for relief staff or temporary workers now, not when you fall ill. Put it in writing and in the dairy, there may not be time for handovers. Communication is key, make sure everyone else on the farm knows what the emergency plan is.
8) Write out the parlour switch on routine, wash routine and shut down routine.
9) Record the system for marking treatment cows, have a clear system and records for three quartered cows etc, consider a parlour whiteboard.
10) One prudent step is to ensure all staff in the wider farm business can milk in an emergency. If that involves an element of training it may be wise to get that organised.
11) Communicate now. Phone around now and establish who could help cover milkings in an emergency. Keep in contact with them in case the plan needs to change.
12) Liaise with your friends and neighbours and agree to help each other if it comes to it – again observe social distancing rules but contingency arrangements can be made over the phone.
13) Change working practices, minimise outside contact and suspend unnecessary visits.
14) Check insurance cover for uncollected milk and add it if possible.
15) Simplify the daily routine wherever possible – plan for reduced staff numbers should anyone contract the virus and be ready to only undertake the basic milkings, health and welfare.
16) Consider milking frequency. Depending on your system, can you milk twice instead of three times, can you milk once per day? Do all cows need to be brought to the parlour as frequently as normal?
17) Look out for each other, empathise and keep everyone’s spirits up.
Hopefully your plan will never be needed but you owe it to your staff and dairy cows to have one.
Throughout history, in times of national crisis, keeping agriculture and food production running has been one of the highest priorities for the nation. The Coronavirus crisis is no different and British agriculture will rise to the challenge of feeding the nation. It is crucial we keep ourselves healthy by taking extraordinary measures so we can play our part in the fight against the disease.
30th March 2020