Dairy cattle at feedingDating back to 2011, Cornell University has surveyed more than 100 New York farms to dig deeper into the impacts of the labor on dairies. The report summarizes labor costs and the impacts of labor shortages on farm efficiency. For the farms surveyed, the report found more than 15% of operating expenses in 2011 were for hired labor costs, and by 2020, that share climbed to 17.1%. However, during this same timeframe, the average cow herd nearly doubled from 611 to 1,200 cows. These farms employed an average of 11.3 hired workers in 2011 to 20.4 by 2020.

So what does this mean? The study points to labor efficiency and found that the amount of cows per worker also increased, garnering more than a 10% increase since 2016. This can be attributed to factors such as improved technology and better facilities. A welcomed result from the results, operations surveyed found they have been able to employ fewer workers to help stave off increased labor costs.

Read more on labor costs and dairy farm worker efficiency.