Dairy Farmer Kaiahuwhenua Miraka Kau

Dairy farmers plan and manage milk production by cows, maintain pasture and monitor environmental impacts on farms.

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Dairy farmers may do some or all of the following:

  • milk cows
  • plan and manage the feeding of cows
  • manage cow health, reproduction and calf-rearing
  • carry out general maintenance such as fencing, spraying weeds and pest control
  • keep financial and farming records
  • maintain equipment and farm vehicles
  • employ and train people to work on the farm 
  • work with vets, farm advisers and other contractors
  • follow health and safety and wellbeing procedures
  • keep up to date with new farm technology, and ways to make the farm more environmentally sustainable.

Physical Requirements

Dairy farmers need to have a good level of fitness as dairy farm work can be physically demanding.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for dairy farmers includes:

  • farm, outdoor, engineering or labouring work
  • working with animals
  • working in mechanical, maintenance or building industries 
  • professional rural roles such as fertiliser sales representative, banker or stock agent.

Personal Qualities

Dairy farmers need to be:

  • confident and caring with animals
  • patient, adaptable and practical
  • motivated and able to follow a routine
  • able to show initiative and make decisions
  • well organised, goal-focused and forward-thinking  
  • able to work well independently, and in a team
  • good at communicating and managing.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for dairy farmers includes:

  • farm, outdoor, engineering or labouring work
  • working with animals
  • working in mechanical, maintenance or building industries 
  • professional rural roles such as fertiliser sales representative, banker or stock agent.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but agricultural and horticultural science, digital technologies, maths, English and business studies to a least NCEA Level 2 are useful.

Dairy Farmers can earn around $42K-$90K per year per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Dairy Farmer are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Most dairy farmers start as farm workers or assistants, and progress into other roles such as herd manager or sharemilker.

Dairy farmers may also go on to buy their own farm.

Dairy farmers may specialise in a number of profit-sharing and management roles, such as:

Dairy Farm Assistant
Dairy farm assistants help farmers with a variety of tasks, including raising and caring for animals, repairs and maintenance, and other farming activities.
Dairy Herd Manager
Dairy herd managers are paid a wage to manage a herd of cows.
Dairy Farm Manager
Dairy farm managers are responsible for the financial and physical performance of the farm in consultation with a farm's owner.
Operations Manager
Operations managers are responsible for meeting farm owners' business goals, and managing farm profits or shares.
Contract Milker
Contract milkers pay for a percentage of the farm costs (without owning the cows) and receive a set reward per kilogram of milk solids.
Sharemilker
Sharemilkers either milk a dairy farmer's cows for a profit share, or own a herd of cows and milk them on an owner's land for a profit share.
Dairy Farm Owner
Dairy farm owners own their own dairy farm and may employ staff to run their farming business.

Other employment and profit-sharing arrangements are available in the dairy farming industry.

Dairy Farmer

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