Farm Assistant Kaimahi Pāmu

Farm assistants help farmers with a variety of tasks, including raising and caring for animals, repairs and maintenance, tractor work and other farming activities.

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Farm assistants may do some or all of the following:

  • move animals between paddocks
  • drench and dip animals, and give them medicines
  • operate farm machines to cultivate, fertilise, spray and harvest crops
  • provide animals with food and water
  • attend to animals while they are sick or giving birth
  • groom, feed and care for horses
  • collect, sort and pack animal products such as eggs or wool
  • clean and repair buildings, yards and fences
  • operate and maintain farm machinery such as tractors and wool-pressing machines.

Physical Requirements

Farm assistants need to have a good level of fitness and stamina as farm work can be physically demanding.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for farm assistants includes:

  • working with animals
  • any type of farm work
  • experience with machinery and tools
  • engineering work such as welding
  • forestry work
  • driving heavy vehicles
  • labouring work.

Personal Qualities

Farm assistants need to be:

  • motivated and willing to work hard
  • adaptable and efficient
  • responsible
  • willing to learn
  • good with animals
  • able to work well under pressure and as part of a team.


Farm assistants need to have:

  • knowledge of different farming methods
  • knowledge of the animals they are dealing with, including their life and breeding cycles
  • knowledge of how to use and maintain farm equipment and machinery
  • practical skills for tasks such as fencing
  • driving skills for motorbikes, tractors or farm utility vehicles.


Farm assistants:

  • may work long and irregular hours depending on the season and the type of farm
  • work outdoors as well as in sheds and barns
  • work in all weather conditions
  • usually live on or near the farm where they are employed.

Farm Assistants can earn around $42K-$53K per year.

Pay for farm assistants depends on experience, location, farm size, type of work and level of responsibility.

  • Dairy farm assistants usually earn between $42,000 and $43,000 a year.
  • Farm assistants on sheep and beef farms usually earn between $43,000 and $45,000. 
  • Tractor drivers on mixed crop and livestock farms can earn between $51,000 and $53,000. 

Benefits offered to farm assistants may include production and performance bonuses, and free or partly paid for:

  • accommodation
  • power, phone, food and firewood
  • training and education

The value of these benefits varies from $1,000 to $4,000 a year.

Source: Federated Farmers/Rabobank 'Farm Employee Remuneration Survey', 2018.

Farm assistants may move into farm management positions, such as herd manager, assistant manager and farm manager, or become self-employed farmers. They may become farm consultants, sell agricultural products, or work in other areas of the agriculture industry.

Farm assistants may specialise in areas such as:

Cattle Farm Assistant
Cattle farm assistants raise and care for beef cattle, and perform routine tasks on beef cattle farms such as feeding, mustering and moving cattle.
Dairy Farm Assistant
Dairy farm assistants raise and care for cows, and perform routine tasks on dairy farms such as herding and milking cattle.
Pig Farm Assistant
Pig farm workers raise and care for pigs for the production of meat and breeding stock.
Poultry Farm Assistant
Poultry farm assistants raise and care for chickens or other poultry to produce meat, and/or keep hens to produce eggs.
Sheep Farm Assistant
Sheep farm assistants raise and care for sheep and help to prepare them for shearing, crutching, dipping and yarding for sale.
Stablehands exercise, feed and care for horses at a stable, and keep the stable and the stable yard clean.
Wool Handler/Presser
Wool handlers/pressers regulate the flow of sheep to be shorn, as well as picking up and sorting wool in a shearing shed and pressing it into bales.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a farm assistant. However, many employers prefer to employ people who have experience, pre-employment training, or are working towards a related qualification. 

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.


Cadet training schemes are useful if you want to specialise in sheep and beef farming, and improve your skills and chances of employment. Cadet farms are run as commercial sheep and beef farms and offer one-to-two-year agricultural training programmes that lead to a New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (Level 3 or 4).

Farm Assistant