On one farm near Waimate, the mantra "people before production" underpins employment decisions.
On Cara Gregan's farm, workers must pass what she calls the "gumboot test".
Cara says she asks herself whether if her children or husband were wearing the gumboots, how she would feel about their conditions of work.
"I've got teenaged children, and I wouldn't be prepared for them to work 12-14 hour days."
Instead, the Gregans' employees work 9am to 5pm, with every second weekend off. The hours are flexible -- one employee who has sports in the afternoon chooses to work 5am to 2pm.
They make it work by hiring local, casual workers to help with milking. It costs more, but they say it pays off long-term. They say their workers are happier, not tired, emotional and worn out.
Ms Gregan is convinced her workers are just as productive as those doing long days.
"We get as much productivity out of our staff working a shorter day than if they were here for 12-14 hours a day."
Mr Gregan says they haven't got it right every time.
"You kiss a lot of frogs and they don't all turn into princes...but a lot of them have."
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