Dairy Farm Assistant Kaiāwhina Pāmu Kau

Dairy farm assistants help farmers with a variety of tasks, including caring for and milking cows, repairs and maintenance, and other farming activities.

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Dairy farm assistants may do some or all of the following:

  • milk cows
  • feed and safely handle animals, and report any health and welfare issues
  • weeding, fencing and pest management
  • use and maintain farm vehicles, machinery and infrastructure
  • follow health and safety and wellbeing procedures
  • nutrient, effluent and water management work.

Physical Requirements

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

Useful Experience

Useful experience for dairy farm assistants includes:

  • working with animals, especially cows or calves
  • farm, forestry, engineering or labouring work
  • operating farm machinery and tools
  • driving heavy vehicles.

Personal Qualities

Dairy farm assistants need to be:

  • confident and caring with animals
  • hard-working and motivated
  • adaptable and efficient 
  • responsible 
  • willing to learn
  • able to work well under pressure and in a team.


Dairy farm assistants need to have knowledge of:

  • dairy farming methods
  • the life and breeding cycles of cattle
  • how to use and maintain farm equipment and machinery
  • practical skills for tasks such as fencing and effluent management
  • driving skills for motorbikes, tractors or farm utility vehicles.


Dairy farm assistants:

  • may work long and irregular hours depending on the season and size of farm
  • work on farms and in milking sheds
  • work outside with animals, crops and machinery in all weather conditions
  • usually live on or near the farm where they're employed. 

Subject Recommendations

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

For Year 11 to 13 learners, Gateway and trades academies are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

Dairy Farm Assistants can earn around $42K-$43K per year.

Pay for dairy farm assistants varies depending on experience, location, farm size and level of responsibility.

  • New dairy farm assistants usually earn between $42,000 and $43,000 a year.
  • Experienced dairy farm assistants can earn between $43,000 and $80,000.

Source: Federated Farmers/Rabobank, 'Farming Salaries 2018', 2017/2018.

Dairy farm assistants may progress to other roles in the dairy industry such as:

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a dairy farm assistant as you can gain skills on the job. However, many employers prefer to hire people who have experience, pre-employment training, or have or are working towards a qualification.

Dairy farmers will often train inexperienced people if they have a can-do attitude and willingness to learn. They may offer their employees training through the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO), which oversees apprenticeships.

Pre-employment training 

Pre-employment training options include internships, work experience and short courses available through private training organisations and polytechnics.


Apprentices earn while they learn and develop their skills and career prospects through on-the-job experience over two or three years. Apprenticeships are available through different industry organisations and companies. 

On-the-job training

Dairy farm assistants may choose to study towards a qualification while in work, or attend farming discussion groups.

Dairy Farm Assistant