Thursday, 01 October 2020 06:55

Work experience helps fresh talent into dairying

Written by  Staff Reporters
Gillian Saich with farmer Edwin Mabonga. Gillian Saich with farmer Edwin Mabonga.

Gillian Saich from Invercargill is new to dairy farming and was thrilled when a dairy farmer offered her work experience on his farm.

Gillian recently finished DairyNZ’s GoDairy Farm Ready Training, designed to give Kiwis throughout New Zealand entry level training to work on dairy farms. 

After the training, dairy farmer Edwin Mabonga from Otautau offered Gillian two weeks’ work experience and she jumped at the chance. 

“It’s been brilliant to get hands-on experience. I have learned so much and have been involved in lots of aspects on the farm, including calving and milking,” she says. 

Gillian comes from an urban background, with a work history in bookkeeping, but the opportunity to work in the dairy sector attracted her interest. 

“It’s a great sector with fabulous people. I found the GoDairy training really helpful. 

“I learned a lot about cows, including their anatomy, behaviour and preferences when you’re working with them,” said Gillian.

“I also learned how to drive a motorbike, quad bike, side by side (LUV) and tractor, which I’ve never done before. It has really given me confidence to approach farmers for work.”

For others considering getting into dairy training, Gillian says: “Go for it! There are many facets to working on a dairy farm, so you will never get bored. There are also a wide range of roles at every skill level.”

Edwin says he finds it is very satisfying giving people a chance to pick up skills. He has hired a number of people new to dairy farming over the years.

“It’s great to watch people learning new skills and developing their confidence,” he said.

Edwin has four full-time staff members and hires casual staff over calving. His 250ha farm has 850 cows and he is a DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leader. 

Edwin and DairyNZ are encouraging farmers to give work experience to trainees from the GoDairy Farm Ready Training programme, to help them get started in dairy jobs.

 DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said it’s important the sector gives people coming through the training an opportunity to get started in the sector. 

“The only way people get experience on farm is if people give them a go in the first place,” Jane said.

“The feedback we are getting from farmers who have hired GoDairy trainees is that they are enthusiastic and get stuck into the work. Farmers have told us they are pleased with the skills those people have learned in the training and understand they will build on that knowledge with ongoing on-the-job training.”

The GoDairy campaign offers Kiwis three weeks of training covering stockmanship, farm equipment and vehicle safety. 

The first week is online training and the second two weeks of practical training are being held in regions around the country. 

Farmers can visit

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