Written by Safer Farms’ General Manager Tony Watson

Do you have a plan for having to leave the farm if an emergency arises, or do you just hope nothing will go wrong?

When it comes down to it, there’s many things that can take us off the farm for an unknown period of time, from family emergencies, to a health problem or serious injury.

It’s always worth giving some thought to what would happen if you, or your key person wasn’t available to work for whatever reason.

The key is to have a plan in place that will make it easy for people to know what you’d want them to do.

As farmers, it’s amazing how much information we have stored in our heads. Our daily plans, weekly tasks, monthly intentions and of course, our grand master plans which are mostly, never written down.

This can often lead to us thinking; “I can’t leave the farm as I’m the only one who knows what to do.”

Obviously, this depends on the business size – the bigger the farm, the more people you have to fall back on, pick up the load and move people around to cover.

For some, this isn’t possible so we need to have a network of people who could step in to help if needed. This could include trusted contacts such as neighbours, a consultant, a friend, former worker, consultant etc.

We can’t assume or rely on our partner to take over. Chances are, they’ll also be with you dealing with emergency and or taking care of you, visiting you in hospital to have any time to commit to the farm.

It’s also worth creating key contacts for specific equipment such as the electrician, plumber, contractor and those who are familiar with your farm.

We’ve seen many farmers benefit from keeping a rough plan like this up to date:

If I’m not here for any reason, this is what needs to happenStockFeedOther (depends on time of year)  
I’m out for a day or 2  E.g. who would milk cows tonight    E.g. what paddocks to graze nextE.g. surplus calf sales
  I’m out for a weekE.g. managing clean/dirty mob, colostrum mob    E.g. how much supplement and to feed to which mobE.g. calf weights – are they growing?
  I’m out of action for more than a week or 2E.g. Mating, animal treatmentsE.g. applying fertiliser or making supplementE.g. calf disbudding – who? When?

Put simple systems in place that make it easy for others in case you can’t be there. Even just taking a few minutes to get these things written on the whiteboard in the shed can be really helpful.

Like an ‘insurance’ or emergency plan, hopefully you don’t need to use it.

Having thought about it though and writing a few simple things down can give you peace of mind that there is something in place if something does happen.

It can also help to reduce stress and give you a better frame of mind to focus on getting work done safely and efficiently.

At the end of the day, it’s better to have a plan and not use it, than need a plan you haven’t thought about.