Agriculture, Food & Beverage

Lean Dairy Farm

The Challenge

This project saw Leading Edge Group working with the Ryan family dairy farm at Cappagh, Co. Waterford, Ireland. The busy nature of dairy farming and the desire to get the job done means that labour planning and communication can sometimes take a back seat which results in labour cost overruns. This has the knock-on impact of drawing the farm owner into micromanaging the day to day activities of the farm; therefore distracting the owner from growing the overall business.

The Solution

In order to run to budget, a labour demand/capacity plan was created to hire labour only when it is necessary. To do this, we divided the year into farm work periods based on milking once or twice per day, calving season and winter period. For each period we created a workload chart to understand where the work is to be done and the labour required to do it. The result was a labour ‘grass’ plan that set out the quantity of labour required throughout the year, and a labour budget plan to track the monthly cost of direct labour.

The Results

At the farm at Cappagh, recently applied Lean techniques were utilised to great effect during the calving season. The benefits are outlined below:

  • Certainty and control over labour costs for farm owners, with significant cost saving
  • Increase cash available to plough back into the business
  • Job and earnings certainty for labour
  • Team work and the power of many
  • Everyone knows they are working on the right thing
  • Owner and managers time freed up
  • Reduced frustration as work is done right first time
  • Problems are solved quickly without any fuss
  • Clear communication for all employees


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