The negatives of being a dairy farmer

It’s time to balance yesterday’s post about the five upsides of being a dairy farmer with the three big downsides. I’m not whingeing – I have consciously chosen to be a dairy farmer – but nor am I going to beat about the bush because the issues are too serious to sweep under the carpet.

Piggy Bank

Sadly, almost all of the negatives about dairy farming come down to money.

Financial stress
Dairy farmers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. When I was a teen, it was far easier as the terms of trade chart below shows.

Terms of Trade for Victorian dairy farmers

Not a pretty picture for dairy farmers

Basically, our standard of living has been cut by a third since the 1980s despite skyrocketing productivity.

High workload
Dairy cows are milked twice a day, seven days per week, and if you can’t afford to employ people, you need to work seven days per week, too. You start before dawn and generally finish after sunset.

Unless you have the money to pay someone to look after the farm, you also miss out on holidays.

A dangerous place to work
The many tasks and unpredictability of animals make farms among Australia’s most hazardous workplaces. Because they are also homes, farm injuries and deaths tragically include children. If you don’t have enough money to pay for assistance, again, you’re more likely to attempt jobs that should be left to skilled people with the right gear.

Aside from the risk of physical injury, the stress of farming with low incomes and at the mercy of Mother Nature can be pyschologically devastating. Farmers are around twice as likely to end their own lives with suicide than other Australians. Farmers are resilient but we are human.

2 thoughts on “The negatives of being a dairy farmer

  1. Hi, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog, I come from a long line of dairy farmers and while I don’t have any cows myself, I do have serious cow envy. Also, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. 🙂


  2. Pingback: Whose fault is it? | The Milk Maid Marian

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