Dairy

If you're keen on working in the Dairy Industry, there are many different career paths you could take, and there are great opportunities for progression within the industry.

Farm Assistant

This hands on entry level job is the first step in a dairy farming career. You will gain practical, hands on experience in all aspects of day to day farming. This will include all sorts of tasks including milking and feeding cows along with operating machinery and carrying out general maintenance work.

 On larger farms you will work as part of a team, while on smaller farms you will often work directly alongside the farm owner. In both cases you will be under direct supervision while you develop your skills and gain experience and responsibility.

Working as a farm assistant provides an excellent opportunity to be exposed to most tasks conducted on farm.

Is it for me?

Working as a farm assistant would suit someone who enjoys working outside, likes animals, and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty or sometimes working long or irregular hours.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science.

No previous experience is required. Employers are looking for ideal personal qualities; commitment to learning, can do attitude, team player and honesty. It can be beneficial to hold a National Certificate in Agriculture Level 2 / 3

Hours:

Farm Assistants will often start around 5am in the morning and work through to late afternoon or evening, but with an hour or so for breakfast and lunch; these hours may change depending on the season. Farm Assistants will often be required to work in the weekends.

Chances of employment:

The number of dairy farms in New Zealand has increased a lot over the last 10 years. This means that there are good opportunities for employment.

Pay:

Farm Assistants will generally earn an average salary of $40,000; which may include a benefits package which could include housing, some meals or even power.

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Herd Manager

This is an entry level managerial role where the individual takes some responsibility for the day to day operation of part of the farm or one herd on the farm.
 
Be responsible for tasks such as feed allocation, milking, and health of a herd. On larger farms this role may also extend to supervising allocated staff. This is not an autonomous role. You are still actively learning about duties and areas of responsibility on the farm. You will be working in direct consultation with a farm owner of manager.

Also known as:

  • Assistant Herd Manager
  • Senior Herd Manager

Is it for me?

Working as a herd manager would suit someone who enjoys working outdoors, handling animals and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty. A farm manager needs to be able to manage staff as well as a farming operation.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science.

Ideally you will have at least 2 years experience working on farm as a farm assistant or in a similar role. It may also be usedful to have a National Certificate in Agribusiness Management, Level 3, working towards Level 4. Some herd managers have studied farm management at university as well.

Hours:

Herd Managers will often start around 5am in the morning and work through to late afternoon or evening, but with an hour or so for breakfast and lunch; these hours may change depending on the season. Herd Managers will often be required to work in the weekends.

Chances of employment:

The number of dairy farms in New Zealand has increased a lot over the last 10 years. This means that there are good opportunities for employment.

Pay:

Herd managers will generally earn an average salary of $50,000; which may include a benefits package which could include housing, some meals or even power.

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Farm Manager

The farm manager works with the farm owner’s policy guidelines and business plans including managing finance, cows, grass, recruitment and supervision of staff.
 
A farm manager is responsible for the financial and physical performance of the farm and as such will be highly skilled in all aspects of the farm business. On larger farms this role will also include responsibility for recruiting and managing staff.
 
In this role you will be responsible for implementing the short and long term business plans of the farm owner. You will have responsibility for the financial and physical performance of farm.

Is it for me?

Working as a farm manager would suit someone who enjoys working outdoors, handling animals and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty. A farm manager needs to be able to manage staff as well as a farming operation.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science.

You will ideally have 3-5 years experience working directly on farm, having gained an overview of all the required elements needed for farm management. You will also have some experience of managing staff. It could be useful to have one or more of the following qualifications: National Certificate in Agribusiness Management, Level 4; National Diploma in Agribusiness Management, Level 4; Certificate in Rural Staff Management (or similar); an agricultural science / management bachelor’s degree.

Hours:

Farm Managers hours will vary depending on the season  but will often start around 5am and work through til late afternoon/evenings. They can often be expected to work some weekends too.

Chance of employment:

There is a general shortage of farm workers and managers in New Zealand so chance of employment will be high.

What's the pay like?

Farm managers will generally earn an average salary of $69,000; which may include a benefits package which could include housing and even power.

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Sharemilker

A 50/50 sharemilker takes responsibility for the production system. They also maintain farm infrastructure and machinery and may employ labour where required. They are responsible for the financial management of their own business.
 
Sharemilkers are self employed contractors who receive a percentage of the milk income, and pay a percentage of costs, based on the amount of stock and machinery they contribute to the agreement. Income depends on both payout and production.
 
Sharemilkers are responsible for defined areas of expenditure and will supply agreed resources e.g. motorbike, machinery or stock.
 
The level of responsibility for a sharemilker is less strategic than a farm owner. It requires the knowledge and understanding of farming at the same level as a farm manager, with the added responsibility for financial management of their own business.

Is it for me?

A sharemilker must enjoy working with and caring for animals. This means everything from animal health to pasture management to ensure animals are appropriately cared for. You'll need to be able to manage staff and expenditure on the farm.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science.

You will ideally have 3-5 years experience working directly on farm, having gained an overview of all the required elements needed for farm management. You will also have some experience of managing staff. It may be useful to hold one or more of the following qualifications: National Certificate in Agribusiness Management, Level 4; National Diploma in Agribusiness Management, Level 4; Certificate in Rural Staff Management (or similar); Production Management -  stage 2; an agricultural science / management bachelor’s degree

Hours:

You could be expected to work anywhere between 50 to 60 hours a week, often starting around 5 am and finishing in the evening. This will vary depending on the season. Weekend work can be expected.

Pay:

The earning potential of a sharemilker will depend on the size of the herd and the milk payout price. They will recieve 50% of the milk profits from the farm.

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