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Work organization on smallholder dairy farms: a process unique to each farm


The way smallholder farms organize and carry out work impacts their ability to secure their livelihoods and meet growing demand for agricultural products. This study investigates the way dairy family farms in Brazil manage their workforce to achieve their objectives of production and income. Fifteen smallholder farms were surveyed using the QuaeWork method to understand the work organization on each farm. A high diversity of workloads was found, but these do not appear to be strictly related to the farms’ production systems. The high variability of workloads is linked to the available workforce, technical choices, and the delegation of tasks to an external workforce. Farmers can decrease their workload by adopting milking mechanization, silage, hiring labor, and increasing the duration of the work day. Work organization depends on a farmer’s personal choices, rendering the whole issue of workforce management a process unique to each farm.

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The authors would like to thank the 15 livestock farmers from Unaí-MG who participated in the study and Grace Delobel for translating the paper into English. This work was funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche under the Systerra Program: ANR-08-STRA-10 (Ecological, technical and social innovation processes in Conservation Agriculture).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Nathalie Hostiou.

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Hostiou, N., Cialdella, N., Vazquez, V. et al. Work organization on smallholder dairy farms: a process unique to each farm. Trop Anim Health Prod 47, 1271–1278 (2015).

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  • Labor
  • Brazil
  • Task duration
  • Workload
  • Variability