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.
milk harvesting
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.
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.
SALARY
* Average farm assistant salary, Farming Salaries 2018, Remuneration Summary Report 2017/18, Federated Farmers.
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.
STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU
“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.”

Mihaka Beckham, Farm Assistant

WHERE TO STUDY
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 & Dairy Training

  • 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
PRIMARY ITO
Primary ITO organises training and qualifications in your area. Courses range from starting out, to 1-2 years’ experience and management.
DAIRY TRAINING
Dairy Training works with Primary ITO to deliver off-job courses throughout New Zealand for NZQA levels 2-6. Training is vocational, meaning you learn while in employment.
APPRENTICESHIPS
Earn while you learn. Be part of your local farming community with Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy.
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 
For a comprehensive list of training and industry-agreed dairy farm role descriptions visit DairyNZ.
WHERE TO STUDY
A number of training providers offer courses, from taster courses to New Zealand Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees. Check out the interactive map.

Improve lives, enhance the environment, design the future

GETTING THAT FIRST JOB

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.

Networking

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

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.

dairynz.co.nz

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

job search

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

Are you with these social networks?

EMPLOYEE AND SELF-EMPLOYED CAREER PATHWAYS

DISCOVER YOUR FIT

What do you enjoy? Match your skills and interests to a dairy sector career.

WHERE TO STUDY

Find out options to learn and study for a successful dairy sector career.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU

Read stories about people just like you and their journeys to successful dairy sector careers.

INSPIRING STORIES

News and stories about people in dairy farming, agri-science and agri-business careers.