There has been a good response in Northern Ireland to the relief milking scheme introduced a few months ago by the Surrey-based Mayday Agricultural Services.
The Ulster Mayday team, led by local agent Mr Jim Richmond, Clonkee, Newtownbutler, has now the service “well off the ground” with the scheme in operation on several farms.
And firm orders and enquiries covering the months ahead, particularly the June, July and August holiday period, are also in hand.
Mr Richmond has just completed a week’s engagement for Mr Norman Shaw, Craigy House, Saintfield.
Said Mr Shaw, an honours graduate in agriculture from Newcastle University: “I am very pleased with the result of the week’s relief work carried out by Mr Richmond and I would say the scheme has obvious potential provided a quality service is maintained.
“Depending on the size of the herd and the attitude of the individual farmer ‘relief’ affords the opportunity to catch up with other farm business. It’s value in case of an accident or for a holiday break, speaks for itself.”
Mr Shaw, son of Milk Marketing Board member and former UFU president Mr Sam Shaw, re-introduced dairying to the farm last October after going into full time farming in partnership with his father.
A 65-strong Friesian herd, mainly in calf and springing heifers, was accommodated in the existing housing with the pipe-line system and bulk collection the only addition to the facilities available when milk production was phased out in the ‘60s.
Mr Shaw restored dairying to give balance to the farm programme dominated by major beef and cereal enterprises.
“I turned to the relief milking as the herdman who I have appointed will not be taking up duty until June,” said Mr Shaw, “and I had a lot of other farm business to catch up on.
“I required a man capable of taking complete charge of the herd and Mr Richmond filled the bill.”
Explaining the relief scheme, Mr Richmond said it was the Mayday policy to have available a team to act for farmers for long or short periods as required.
Said Mr Richmond: “We are currently recruiting a labour force to deal with all aspects of farm work and the response has been very heartening.”