Dairy Farmer
Careers New Zealand
New Zealand
3d ago

Pay for dairy farmers and dairy farm managers varies depending on experience and responsibilities, and the profitability of the farm.

  • Assistant dairy herd managers usually earn an average of $46,000 a year.
  • Dairy herd managers usually earn an average of $53,000.
  • Dairy farm managers usually earn an average of $67,000.
  • Operations managers in charge of large or multiple dairy farms usually earn an average of $71,000.
  • Sharemilkers' and farm owners' pay

    The earning potential of sharemilkers (who may own herds and supply herds or equipment in exchange for a percentage of milk company payouts), and managers (who enjoy profit-

    sharing arrangements with farm owners) can be high, but may fluctuate from year to year.

    The amount they earn depends on how much milk their cows produce, and milk company payouts, which vary depending on global market conditions.

    Other benefits

    Dairy farm managers are often supplied with free power, telephone, some or all meals, and sometimes farm-killed meat or milk.

    The monetary value of these extras can be significant with the average about $5,000 a year, according to Federated Farmers.

    Accommodation is also available on most farms, sometimes at subsidised rates.

    Source : Federated Farmers / Rabobank, Farm Employee Remuneration Survey', 2015 / 2016.

    This information is a guide only. )

    What you will do

    Most dairy farmers milk cows twice a day once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Some dairy farmers milk seasonally and others milk all year round.

    Dairy farmers may do some or all of the following :

  • milk the cows using milking machinery, and wash pipes and clean the yard after milking
  • plan and manage the amount and type of food the cows eat, and buy feed supplements
  • manage the health, breeding and mating of the herd, and the raising of calves
  • carry out general maintenance such as fencing and spraying weeds around the farm
  • keep financial and farming records, and organise the farm business plan
  • maintain equipment and farm vehicles, such as farm bikes and tractors
  • employ and train people to work on the farm
  • interact with vets, farm advisers and other contractors to ensure efficient running of the farm
  • keep up to date with new farm technology, and ways to make the dairy farm more environmentally sustainable.
  • Skills and knowledge

    Dairy farmers need to have :

  • good animal-handling skills to ensure cows, calves and bulls are healthy and productive
  • an understanding of animal welfare, including knowing how to treat common animal health issues
  • an understanding of pasture management to achieve high quality milk
  • knowledge of the milking process
  • an awareness of milk company standards and safe practices on the farm
  • mechanical ability to drive, operate and maintain farm machinery
  • knowledge of accounting and how to run a business
  • an understanding of sustainable environmental management practices such as safe waste disposal.
  • Dairy farmers :

  • usually start milking early in the morning, may get time off during the day, then milk again in the afternoon
  • may work long hours during peak times, and often work six days a week
  • work on farms and inside milking sheds
  • work outside in all weather conditions, and may work in dusty, dirty, wet, and noisy locations
  • may visit other farms or attend agricultural field days, and sometimes travel overseas to learn about other farming methods.
  • Entry requirements

    There are no specific entry requirements for dairy farmers, but training will help you with your career. A relevant training course in agriculture, dairy farming, agribusiness, or farm management is recommended.

    Most dairy farmers offer their employees training through the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO), which offers apprenticeships.

    It is useful to have a motorcycle and heavy vehicle driver's licence.

    Secondary education

    A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include agricultural and horticultural science, maths, accounting, biology, science, and digital technology.

    Personal requirements

    Dairy farmers need to be :

  • 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 as part of a team
  • good at communicating with and managing people.
  • Useful experience

    Useful experience for dairy farmers includes :

  • any farm work
  • working with animals
  • working in mechanical, maintenance or building industries
  • professional rural roles such as fertiliser representative, banker or stock agent
  • membership of a young farmers' club.
  • Physical requirements

    Dairy farmers need to have excellent fitness, with good stamina, as the job can be physically demanding.

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