Finding the right role for you


3 min read

Finding the right job for you Where to find jobs Types of job in dairy Additional resources

Finding the right job on-farm in dairy means looking for the farm, employers, role, team members, community, and employment conditions that suit you. There are many opportunities to explore including permanent, casual, and part-time-work. For those that want progression, dairy farming has a clear career progression pathway, from farm assistant through to business ownership opportunities.

Finding the right job for you

When looking for a job in dairy farming, you want to make sure you find a job that is a good fit for you.

We recommend understanding what you need/want to have in a job/role. Consider the following:

  • Understand the responsibilities and tasks you will have. Sometimes the job title is not reflective of the actual job.
  • Location - how far is the closest town? Do you want to live in a rural community
  • Hours/rosters - does this suit you? How is the working day split up?
  • Training - does the farm offer training or are there some experienced staff members you would be able to learn from?
  • Farm team - would you like to work alongside others or are you happy if you’re working by yourself?
  • Accommodation - if there is accommodation available with the role, does it suit your lifestyle/family needs?
  • Remuneration package - is the package competitive for your skills and experience? Do you think it is fair?
  • Are those you live with supportive and enthusiastic about the opportunity? If your partner wants work too is that possible on this farm or nearby?

Where to find jobs

The most common places to find jobs online is through:

Other ways to find jobs on-farm is to:

  • Approach a famer you have heard is a great employer. They may have a vacancy or know of someone who does.
  • Approach family and friends who are part of the dairy sector and let them kow what type of role you are looking for.

For more resources and information check out Careers New Zealand. 

Farm Assistant

This is the best place to start if you have little experience and essential if you are new to the sector.

The farm assistant role allows you to gain valuable hands-on experience whilst getting plenty of on-the-job training.

The types of activities you will complete as a farm assistant are daily operational tasks such as milking, feeding, handling animals, setting up fences, and maintaining equipment. Initially this will be under supervision or direction but as you gain experience and the trust of your employer you may work more independently, especially if you decide being a farm assistant is something you want to do long term.

Most employers will consider your attitude and personality first, so formal training for this position isn’t a necessity.

Herd Manager

Herd managers understand and take responsibility for daily tasks such as running of the dairy, effluent management, and feeding. They can work with minimal supervision and supervise and train other staff. They also look for opportunities to work more effectively and efficiently to improve the business. Herd managers guide and train other staff and help the farm business comply with legal and safety requirements.

Assistant Manager

Assistant managers help with the management of daily activities and implementing farm policies and plans. They manage daily planning and staff management in the absence of the farm manager/owner.

Assistant managers are responsible for areas such as milking, animal care, feed, environment, staff training, machinery maintenance, and health and safety. They also contribute to strategic planning and focus on optimising quality, efficiency, and compliance with regulations. Training is available to enhance their skills in production management and leadership. Overall, this role is critical in maintaining the smooth functioning and development of the farm.

Farm Manager

Farm managers are responsible for meeting farm goals such as production, stock, feed, environment, machinery, and people management. They can monitor, analyse, interpret, and report on appropriate benchmarks. They ensure that farm policies and plans are implemented and are responsible for managing farm expenses to meet the budget.

Operations Manager

Typically oversees more than one farm and ensure that all parts of the farm business are working efficiently towards their goals. They manage various aspects including milking, animal health, feeding, environmental plans, people management, machines, health, safety, and wellbeing. Their responsibilities also extend to financial planning and strategic business management.

Operations managers should have financial, strategic, and farm system skills, and be capable of conflict resolution. Training options are available through formal institutions like polytechnics and universities, as well as non-formal programmes through DairyNZ and the Dairy Women's Network.

Calf Rearer

Depending on the size of the farm, this role can be part or full-time or incorporated into another role on the farm. A calf rearer manages and assists with daily calf-rearing tasks to ensure all calves are treated with care and respect. Duties include feeding and handling calves, animal health, and administering mineral treatments.

Last updated: Feb 2024

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