Basic human resource management tools for farms

Basic human resource management tools for farms

Enric Marco, Swine consultant, Marco Vetgrup, SLP (Spain)

Anyone knowing the pig business will agree on the importance of the human team force in achieving results. But unfortunately, when talking about employees we often hear just about associated problems.

Creating a good team it is not an easy task and require time investment from ownership or top management positions. Here are some of the tools to reduce employees problems.

01. Selection

One of the frequent complaints among farm owners is the difficulty in finding staff. We need people who:

  • Can work with animals.
  • Understand pig behaviour.
  • Are able to work in a team
  • Are competent to manage people (for certain positions).

The selection process is an important element and it is necessary to clearly specify:

  • What is required and offered.
  • The specific tasks to be carried out.
  • What profile is required.

02. Education

Training processes for workers have to include clear differentiation between what is:

  • Offered to a new hire.
  • Considered continuing training.

Training should not be considered a cost, but rather an investment in workers that will improve their efficiency, reducing the replacement rate and therefore being highly profitable.

New employees

It is essential to complement:

  • The presence of a supervisor to follow him/her for a few days.
  • More theoretical training. In order to:
    · Understand certain tasks and the importance of them.
    · Introduce the worker to the company (business vision and values).

Continuous training

It should be:

  • An essential element to achieve promotions and salary improvements.
  • Scheduled:
    · Regularly, for example a few hours each quarter.
    · During working hours.
    Accompanied by a meal or snack that allows relaxation and communication between workers.
  • Moreover, these encounters can be very useful in:
    · Recognizing possibilities for improvement.
    · Finding solutions to problems.

03. Motivation

Motivation is often linked to money but, especially among younger people, there are other important factors such as:

  • Training.
  • A good shift structure that adequately compensates for holidays (e.g. longer weekends or more daily free time).

Promotion is another method as it is also the achievement of clear objectives with:

  • A part that reflects the group work: selfish and unsympathetic attitudes should not be rewarded.
  • Another for the individual work.



We must consider education and free time when calculating staff needs, vacations…


Increasing the cost of personnel should not be scary: it represents less than 10% of the cost of production (6-7%) and its impact can be tremendous.


The effectiveness of human resources (workforce), measured as weaned per worker, is much higher in big farms.


· Collell, M. et al. Effect of farm size on effectiveness of human resources. IPVS proceedings 2012, po-027; Happy pigs-happy people 97.

· Ménard, J. Motivating people and improving results.