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Farm WorkerAlternative titles

Kaimahi Pāmu

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Agricultural Contractor
Tractor Driver
Cattle Farm Worker
Pig Farm Worker
Poultry Farm Worker
Sheep Farm Worker
Stablehand
Wool Handler/Presser
Dairy Farm Worker

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

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

What are the chances of getting a job?

Good

Chances of getting a job as a farm worker are good due to high demand for workers.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates that the number of farm workers declined by about 3% between 2010 and 2012. The decline is due to insufficient numbers of new farm workers coming through to replace those who leave the role.  

Due to this, demand for farm workers is high, and many farmers report they have trouble finding staff. Some of the more skilled types of farm workers, such as assistant farm managers, are included on the Immigration New Zealand Immediate Skill Shortage list.

Demand highest during peak seasons

While demand for workers fluctuates year to year depending on farm profits, there are usually plenty of vacancies, especially during busy times such as:

  • lambing and calving in spring
  • harvesting in late summer/autumn
  • shearing from October to March.

Farm workers mostly employed on privately owned farms

Most farm workers work for farmer-owners or farm managers.

Other employers include:

  • Landcorp, a state-owned enterprise that runs farms throughout the country
  • private companies that own many farms and employ workers and other staff to run them.

Most farms employ between one and three farm workers, but large farms can employ 20 or more.

Sources

  • DairyNZ, 'Career and Training Opportunities', accessed September 2010, (www.dairynz.co.nz).
  • Federated Farmers, '2012 Farm Employee Remuneration Report', 1 February 2012, (www.fedfarm.org.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', 24 March 2014, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.

Current vacancies

Poultry Rearing Farm Worker Listed: 13 Oct 2014 Auckland
Shepherd General Listed: 27 Oct 2014 Otago
Tractor Driver Listed: 24 Oct 2014 Waikato
Tractor, Truck driver Listed: 28 Oct 2014 Canterbury
Tractor Driver Listed: 10 Oct 2014 Auckland
Tractor Driver Listed: 10 Oct 2014 Auckland
General farm worker Listed: 29 Oct 2014 Otago

Other vacancy websites

Progression and specialisations

Farm workers may progress into farm management positions, or become self-employed farmers. Others may become farm consultants, sell agricultural products, or work in other areas of the agriculture industry.

Farm workers may specialise in areas such as:

Cattle Farm Worker
Cattle farm workers raise and care for beef cattle, and perform routine tasks on beef cattle farms such as feeding, mustering and moving cattle.
Dairy Farm Worker
Dairy farm workers raise and care for cows, and perform routine tasks on dairy farms such as herding and milking cattle.
Pig Farm Worker
Pig farm workers raise and care for pigs for the production of meat and breeding stock.
Poultry Farm Worker
Poultry farm workers raise and care for chickens or other poultry to produce meat, and/or keep hens to produce eggs.
Sheep Farm Worker
Sheep farm workers raise and care for sheep and help to prepare them for shearing, crutching, dipping and yarding for sale.
Stablehand
Stablehands exercise, feed and care for horses at a stable, and keep the stable and the stable yard clean.
Tractor Driver
Tractor drivers operate farm machines to cultivate, fertilise, spray and harvest crops and vegetables.
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.

How many people are doing this job?

Year 2012
23,245
Year 2011
22,464
Year 2010
23,829
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.

Cows standing in a paddock

Cattle are farmed throughout the country

A pile of shorn wool

Shearing is seasonal work

Updated 11 Sep 2014