a1 INRA, UMR 1273 METAFORT, F 63122 Saint Genès Champanelle, France
Changes affecting livestock farming systems have made farm work a central concern for both the sector and for farmers themselves. Increased pressure on farms to be competitive and productive together with farmers’ demand for greater autonomy, holidays or time to spend on private activities and the family converge to underline the two key dimensions of work – productivity and flexibility – required for the assessment of work organization. This paper proposes a method called the QuaeWork (QUAlification and Evaluation of Work in livestock farms) to assess work productivity and flexibility on a farm, and its use to identify how livestock management can contribute to work organization on dairy farms. The QuaeWork method was set up through an iterative process combining surveys conducted with farmers in two regions of France, discussions with different experts and literature review. The QuaeWork was applied on a sample of seven dairy farms in the southern Massif Central in France to identify patterns of how livestock management contributes to work organization. The QuaeWork was used to analyse work organization over the year through a systemic approach to the farm, integrating interactions between herd and land management, workforce composition, equipment facilities and combinations of activities through a characterization of ‘who does what, when and for how long’. The criteria for assessing work productivity were work duration (routine work, seasonal work) and work efficiency (per livestock unit or hectare of utilized agricultural area). The criteria for assessing work flexibility were room for manoeuvre and adjustments to internal and external events. The three main patterns of livestock management practices to work organization were identified. In pattern-1, farmers used indoor stable feeding practices with delegated work, with moderate room for manoeuvre and efficiency. In pattern-3, farmers used simplified milking, reproduction and breeding practices to seasonalize work and make it efficient with consistent room for manoeuvre. The method suggests social sustainability criteria to assess work productivity and flexibility, which are important for making reasoned decisions on livestock farm changes, especially innovations. Researchers could usefully exploit the QuaeWork to integrate work objectives (productivity, flexibility) into technical and economic goals.
(Received February 17 2011)
(Accepted September 19 2011)
(Online publication November 11 2011)