Thursday, December 7, 2023

Grab your gumboots and go dairy

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Kiwis are being encouraged to join the dairy sector, as one-third of dairy farms seek to fill vacancies ahead of a busy calving season which begins in July.

Through a new GoDairy campaign, DairyNZ is looking to help recruit young Kiwis into dairy farm roles. Most young people enter the dairy sector in a farm assistant role and the campaign connects job seekers to the latest farm assistant vacancies across New Zealand.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Nick Robinson says the dairy sector offers job security and good career progression opportunities.

“Many existing skills are transferable to dairy farming and we welcome new people to consider a dairy career. The dairy sector currently has around 4000 vacancies,” Robinson says.

Bay of Plenty farm manager Dayna Rowe started as a farm assistant in 2020 and quickly progressed to now lead a team of four.

“I love the flexibility of life on the farm and working with animals, but mainly I’m motivated by the ability to problem-solve and feel I’ve accomplished lots at the end of every day,” Rowe says.

“It has taught me so many practical skills and developed my leadership. I work with fantastic people and every day brings something new – it’s not just milking cows. I am excited to see where my career takes me next.”

Robinson says farm employers have taken a range of steps to continue lifting the salary package and working conditions for their staff.

“That’s because they want to recruit good people but they also want to retain those who are committed to succeeding in our largest sector,” he says.

The current staff shortage offers plenty of opportunity for young Kiwis to start on a good salary and be promoted into management roles. Farm managers can earn over $100,000. Becoming self-employed as a farm owner or sharemilker is another option on the career ladder.

Many farms offer reasonably priced on-farm accommodation, which means no commute to work or daily travel costs, helping them save for future goals.

Farms in Otago, Canterbury and the top of the South Island/West Coast face the highest staff vacancy rates, according to recent DairyNZ data.

Dairy farm teams work closely with animals, help protect the environment, contribute to their local community and are making a difference to the future of New Zealand.

For more information about dairy farm assistant roles, visit

This article first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Dairy Farmer.

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