The code of conduct

Many farm businesses are now developing ‘codes of conduct’ that set out the ethical principles and professional standards expected of employees in a particular workplace. A code of conduct can help employees understand what is reasonable and/or expected behaviour in the farm business.

The code is not intended to be a comprehensive set of rules, but rather a set of principles that guides employees on how to carry out their duties in a lawful and ethical way, and to interact with other employees and members of the public in a fair and courteous manner.

The key principles that all employers and employees should aspire to are:

  • accountability;
  • openness and objectivity;
  • honesty; and
  • leadership.

All permanent, temporary and casual employees should be required to comply with the business’s code of conduct and approved policies.

Use this Code of Conduct to help you generate your own

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ProHand Dairy Cows – changing attitudes and behaviours of stockpeople

Gerard and Michelle run a 1000-cow corporate farm. When they took over the management of the farm it had a culture of attitudes and behaviours towards cows that were considered “normal” but were actually very stressful for the cows. Many of the beliefs and behaviours on the farm were influenced by initial poor experiences with cows, e.g. people saw others handling cows poorly and then consequently had handling difficulties with these cows.

Rather than move these people on, Gerard and Michelle arranged for all their farm to attend the ProHand Dairy Cow program run by the NCDE. ProHand trains stockpeople as professional managers of farm animals. Topics include: why farm animals become fearful of humans, how to recognise fear responses, and how quality human-animal interactions can minimise handling stress for both human and animal.

Gerard had previously participated in the ProHand program. “It really showed how proper handling of animals could improve animal productivity and welfare in the long run, with the added benefits of improving the work motivation, performance and job satisfaction of stockpeople”, he said.

“It is important to train your entire workforce at a similar time, to minimise the risk of peer pressure and negativity towards changing behaviours”

It was not long before it became obvious who was going to adapt their stock handling behaviours and who wasn’t. After 6 months, two of the staff had decided to move on and found new jobs.

When recruiting new staff, Gerard now quizzes them on their beliefs about cows, and their empathy towards animals.

Animal welfare is highlighted in the farm policies and systems, including:

12 months on the benefits of ProHand Dairy Cows training are:

  • Minimal animal handling stress has resulted in shorter milking times and a 5% increase in milk yield for the herd without investing any additional capital.
  • Job satisfaction and motivation to learn has improved amongst the stockpeople. Young Will is thrilled is that most of the cows now seem to like him!
Use of social media

It’s a good idea in this tech-savvy age to have a social media policy. Employees, contractors and sub-contractors need to know that making comments on social media about their employer and their workplace – even if they don’t name names – can be against the terms of their employment contract.

Employees should not say or do anything on social media that:

  • has the potential to bring your business into disrepute;
  • gives away or discusses confidential information;
  • could be viewed as derogatory towards or disparaging of workmates, customers or clients;
  • undermines their effectiveness or productivity at work (eg, through excessive use).

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