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Dairy cattle farmer

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Summary of occupation

​Dairy cattle farmers plan, organise and manage dairy production, which includes breeding and raising calves, milk production, budgeting and business management, and staff management. They are also in charge of maintenance of the property such as mending fences, and maintaining milking machines and equipment. Dairy cattle farmers usually work in Denmark, Harvey and the Margaret River region, the three main dairy farming areas in the south-west of Western Australia.

ANZSCO description: Plans, organises, controls, coordinates and performs farming operations to breed and raise dairy cattle for milk, meat and breeding stock.
Alternative names: Dairy Cattle Farm Manager, Dairy Farm Production Manager, Dairy Farm Business Manager
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A dairy cattle farmer needs:

  • an interest in dairy cattle production and animal husbandry
  • to be comfortable working with animals
  • mechanical aptitude and to be able to work with computers
  • planning, analysing and problem-solving abilities
  • the ability to manage a team and work independently
  • good communication and organisational skills.
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Working conditions

​Dairy cattle farmers work on the farm in an office setting and outdoors in all kinds of weather. They work long hours every day as daily milking occurs very early in the morning and again late in the afternoon. They work with animals that may bite and kick, and operate heavy machinery and equipment, which requires adhering to occupational health and safety standards to reduce the risk of injury. 

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Salary details

On average, dairy cattle farmers, classified under livestock farmers, can expect to earn $1 712 per week ($89 009 per year) depending on the organisation they work for.

Many dairy cattle farmers own and manage their own business. Earnings will depend on the level of demand for their products, commodity prices, local and international markets, as well as expenses associated with running the farm.

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Tools and technologies

​Dairy cattle farmers use heavy machines and equipment such as tractors and milking machines, and hand tools to maintain vehicles and fences. Chemicals are commonly used when farming livestock and protective clothing such as gloves, goggles, coveralls, and steel toe boots are worn to minimise risks. Dairy farmers need to be proficient with computers and may need to use specialised farm management software.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

The Diploma of Agriculture is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a degree majoring in agribusiness, agricultural science or animal science.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

It is also possible to work as a dairy cattle farmer without formal qualifications, however, skills in farm management or livestock production are usually required. You may be able to gain these skills through work experience in a related role or by completing a formal qualification in agriculture or a related field.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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