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.
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.
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.
A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include agricultural and horticultural science, maths, accounting, biology, science, and digital technology.
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 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.
Dairy farmers need to have excellent fitness, with good stamina, as the job can be physically demanding.