Farm assistant

Your first step into farming is likely to be as a farm assistant where you’ll learn the ropes and gain the skills needed to advance your career. Once you have one or two years’ experience, you can become a herd manager or assistant manager.

Duties

Feeding

You’ll be helping to feed the cows, calves and any other stock on the farm. You may be involved with allocating the feed and driving machinery to feed it out and checking to make sure the animals have had enough to eat.

Milking

The engine room of any dairy farm and where you can get your hands dirty. You’ll be putting cups on cows and learning how the milk gets from the cows to the vat for collection.

Animal health

Keeping an eye on the cows will be a crucial part of your role. You will work with your manager to identify and help any animals with problems while also getting involved with things like reproduction, herd testing and preventative measures such as drenching calves.

Environmental management

This may involve shifting the effluent spreader and along with your manager keeping an eye on the system to make sure it’s working well. It can also involve spraying, fencing and planting trees and plants along waterways to help improve the farm’s environmental impact.

Career story

Mihaka Beckham says as long as you are hard-working, determined and keen on the outdoors you’ll find something that suits you in the dairy sector.

Mihaka Beckham | Farm Assistant

“There’s a lot of bosses out there who don’t really mind or necessarily focus on how much experience someone may or may not have. They just want good, reliable people.”

Salary

$48,000+

Education

School

It’s recommended you study maths, sciences and business. IT skills are also important.

What to study

You can study a Certificate, Diploma or Degree qualification before you get a job or study part time while you work.

Straight into work

Farm Assistants don’t always need formal training to get a position on a farm. When hiring, most employers will consider your attitude and personal qualities. You can expect to receive a large amount of informal on-the-job training.

Additional training

Farm Assistants don’t always need formal training to get a position on a farm. When hiring, most employers will consider your attitude and personal qualities. You can expect to receive a large amount of informal on-the-job training. Farm Assistants work closely with a Farm Manager or Farm Owner, you will have opportunities to ask questions and be shown how to do tasks.

Formal

Primary ITO

  • L3 Dairy Livestock Husbandry – gain skills and knowledge in dairy breeding, health and husbandry
  • L3 Milk Harvesting – for those new to the sector
  • Quad bike licence

Informal

DairyNZ

  • Farm discussion groups
  • QuickPlan – develop a life plan within two hours
  • Personal budgeting templates
  • MilkSmart – practical tips, advice, and ideas for milking smarter
  • CalvingSmart – practical tips for pre and post calving 

    Getting into a job

    Job searches

    Ask around or approach a farm. Check out DairyNZ, Farm Source jobs, Trade Me jobs, Seek or Indeed.

    Apprenticeships

    Earn while you learn. Be part of your local farming community with Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy.

    Get a mentor

    A mentor is someone already working or familiar with the career you choose; someone you respect and can use as a sounding board for your ideas.

    Networking

    NZ Young Farmers is a progressive and dynamic social network for rural youth. Dairy Women’s Network is a vibrant community of women.

    Employers want

    Build your reputation from day one and you’ll go far in the dairy sector. Be an employee with the right attitude, skills and a willingness to learn.

    DairyNZ.co.nz

    Employee information, tips and tricks for working in the dairy sector.

    About DairyNZ

    DairyNZ is an organisation that, through research, events, services, education and policy, works with dairy farmers to secure and enhance the profitability, sustainability and competitiveness of New Zealand dairy farming. New Zealand dairy farmers pay DairyNZ a levy to support them.