There is “fierce” demand for labour ahead of peak calving season this spring, according to the Farm Relief Services (FRS).

Demand for on-farm labour remains exceptionally strong and farmers are now keeping operatives on year-round to ensure they are not left without help, said the manager of south Tipperary FRS, Martin Bourke.

“The demand is absolutely fierce. We’ve an awful lot of people looking for workers. We have everybody working, but they seem to be working for longer periods. There’s nobody free.

“Before, we would have workers that had nothing to do for maybe the first two or three weeks in January, whereas now, farmers are keeping them on all the time and making sure they have work for them,” he said.

Bourke added that they have taken on more operatives in the first few weeks of this year, compared to the same period last year.

‘Harder and harder’

There is a similar experience in Co Kerry. Each year, it is more difficult to source labour, said Kerry FRS coordinator, Seán Cronin.

“Especially the last few years, it’s getting harder and harder to get labour. There’s a couple of new clients coming in all the time,” he said.

Cronin added that how long a farmer wants labour for usually depends on the size of the farm.

“A 100-cow herd would just get someone in for immediate spring work and it drops off after that,” he said.

Ninety per cent dairy

Cavan FRS coordinator James Sheridan said approximately 90% of the demand they have experienced for this spring has been from dairy farmers, with a couple of lambing jobs also.

Cavan FRS covers Cavan, Monaghan, Meath, Louth, Longford, Westmeath, north Dublin and into Kildare.

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