Early morning milking sessions and moving cattle are a far cry from the office work Lynne Nel is used to.
Wellington-based Nel has been taking part in the dairy farming taster course at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre near Masterton.
The course, a joint venture between UCOL, EIT and the Ministry of Primary Industries, gives participants hands-on experience, working with Taratahi’s herd of 560 cows and developing skills to work safely on a farm. Students learn how to care for the animals and can participate in morning and afternoon milking.
Nel enrolled in the course through Dairy NZ, as she was looking for a career change after 15 years of working in office jobs.
“I was doing property administration and I just didn’t want to work in an office anymore. I’m an outdoors person and I wanted to work with animals, so this seemed like a pretty good way to do that. With farming you can learn on the job, which is awesome.”
Nel says she has enjoyed learning the ins and outs of working in a milking shed and it has improved her ability to manage and move cattle.
While still weighing up her options, Nel says the course has given her great insight into the dairy industry.
“I’d definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to get into dairy farming. It has been really eye-opening. There is so much more to it than I imagined and so much going on in the dairy shed.”
Nel and her classmates got a glimpse of a large scale dairy operation in action when they visited Rotopai Farm in South Wairarapa. Rotopai boasts 3,000 cows and 1,750 hectares of land.
Stewart Weatherstone (centre) showing Taratahi learners around Rotopai Farm.
Stewart Weatherstone’s family has owned Rotopai Farm since 1931 and have had a long relationship with Taratahi.
“We’ve used quite a lot of students from Taratahi over the past 20 years and a lot of our staff trained there,” says Weatherstone.
“The people doing these courses are the future of the industry. We need labour and we need growth. The more people in the industry, the better.”