A typical day working on a Dairy Farm in Australia: 88 days regional work


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Looking to extend your Australian Working Holiday visa and stay in this amazing country for longer? Before I even landed in Australia, I’d already decided this was what I was going to do. But for all of you who don’t know, in order to apply for the second year, the Australian Government requires you to do 88 days of regional work and that generally means some sort of farm work.

Yes, that’s right. Proper hard manual labour in the blistering Aussie sun. Thanks for that…

But it’s not all that bad. There are loads of types of farms that offer work that can go towards your 88 days. Lots of people go for fruit picking or some go for ranch work, for example. But I managed to get a job working on a dairy farm, even though the closest I’d probably been to a cow before was in a petting zoo. But yanno what, It’s been pretty decent.

Before I started working on the farm, I couldn’t find much that explained what the role would entail, so for all of you are wondering whether work on a dairy farm might be for you, here’s what a typical day looks like for me.

So you've decided to head to Australia on a working holiday visa. That's great! Here's everything you need to sort out before you go, plus a handy checklist for you to make sure you're ready!

4:30 am

One of the hardest parts of working on a dairy farm is the early start. It’s going to be dark and it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, those cows have to be milked. I get up, put my work clothes on, brush my teeth and have a cereal bar just for a bit of energy until breakfast later.

Either I or a colleague will herd the cows in from their paddock towards the dairy using a quad bike or a small Ute. it can be tricky in the dark but as long as the gates leading into the dairy are set up right, the cows will just follow the laneways straight into the dairy yard.

Heading to Australia on a working holiday and looking to extend your visa for another year? Working on a Dairy Farm is a great way to tick off your 88 days. Find out what a typical working day is like on a dairy farm here.

5:00 am

Miking starts at 5 am so the dairy needs to be set up before then. This involves making sure the vat is connected which is where all the milk will collect and some other bits and pieces required to make it all work. The dairy I’ve worked in has a rotary platform so the cows walk on when it moves and they will get given grain to eat, At this point, the milking cups need to be put on and when the cow gets to the other side, the cups need to be taken off. One person puts them on, another takes them off, and this is how it goes for the whole milking. The farm I’ve worked at has just over 500 cows (fairly small believe it or not) and milking takes about 2-3 hours.

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8:00 am

Once milking’s all done and dusted, the dairy and yard get hosed down to, put it blatantly, get rid of all the cow shit. It can take a while to get used to the messiness of this job but after a few days, it just becomes routine.

Heading to Australia on a working holiday and looking to extend your visa for another year? Working on a Dairy Farm is a great way to tick off your 88 days. Find out what a typical working day is like on a dairy farm here.

8:30 am

With milking finished, it’s time to feed the calves. They live in a separate shed and need to be fed twice a day when they’re young. Dealing with the calves sounds all cute and everything, but trust me, they can really test your patience! each calf HAS to feed properly and it means I’ve spent lots of time in the pens getting hold of them and putting them on the feeder. Brand new calves also need to be taught how to use the feeder, which can be a bit of a challenge. Sick calves need to be treated and grain needs to be filled up in each pen. When the calves get bigger, they are put in a paddock outside where they get fed from a feeder on a trailer just once a day – SO much easier than getting barged by them in the pens.

9:30 am

Time for breakfast.

Anytime from breakfast until afternoon milking

Farms are super busy places so there’s always something to do. I’ve spent my time between milking doing a range of things such as tidying, mowing grass, collecting the new calves to put in the calf shed, taking rubbish to the dump, power washing poo off walls, tending to water troughs… the list goes on. I then have a break for lunch before going back for afternoon milking.

2:30 pm

This is the start time for afternoon milking, so the cows will need to be herded in before this and the dairy to be set up ready for milking to start. The afternoon milking routine is the same as the morning one so it’s pretty repetitive, but that also means it get easier really quickly. After milking, the dairy and yard has to be hosed down again in preparation for milking the following morning.

5:30-6:00 pm


Heading to Australia on a working holiday and looking to extend your visa for another year? Working on a Dairy Farm is a great way to tick off your 88 days. Find out what a typical working day is like on a dairy farm here.

So there you have it! This is an average day at work for me on a dairy farm. It can certainly be tiring and I had a huge learning curve to overcome, but honestly, once I got into the routine, it’s not been too bad. Working on a dairy farm has been a great experience and I always recommend it to backpackers looking to do regional work. Keep in mind though that this is my personal experience based on the farm I’ve worked at but it can vary depending on the size of the farm and how many staff it has. You have to be flexible and willing to throw yourself in and crack on with things, but it’s also a good laugh!

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  • As with all work you do relating to your 88 days regional work, be sure to check out the government website so you know your work is definitely going to count towards your 88 days. You can find the link here.
  • Along with doing your own research, it helps to search for jobs on reputable websites. Backpacker Job Board is a great resource for finding work as a backpacker in general, but they have a great section specifically for second year visa jobs. Check out their list here.


Got any questions about working on a dairy farm?

Drop me a comment below!


Heading to Australia on a working holiday and looking to extend your visa for another year? Working on a Dairy Farm is a great way to tick off your 88 days. Find out what a typical working day is like on a dairy farm here. #australiaworkingholiday #australia #dairyfarm #regionalwork #88days


  1. Hey!! thank you for share your experience. I have a difficult question. If I love animals and I am vegetarian, do yo think it’s going to be hard for me? I hope you can give me some advice. Thanks!!

    • Hi, I can’t really answer that as I’m not vegetarian but I know previous people who had worked at the dairy farms had been vegetarian and vegan. It’s up to you though!

  2. Jessica Whelan on

    Hi thanks for all the information. Just wondering could you pass on the details for the farm you where on ?

    • Hi Laura, I am working on a dairy farm in regional Vic at the moment and really enjoyed reading your 2 pieces on it as it really resonated with me!
      The hours you mentioned in this article are slightly longer than what I am doing now , this is a quieter time but once it gets busy I will be doing as you mentioned.
      I am currently working 6am until around 9:30am and 2:30 pm until around 6pm depending on the day. I am making sure to get 7 hours everyday doing other tasks if the milk is done early. I am getting 35 hours a week, is this enough to count my 5 work days as 7 days for the 2nd year visa. It’s very unclear on the website.

      • Hi Kate. Really sorry but I’m really not an expert so don’t want to mis-advise you and things change a lot with the visa requirements. I believe that as long as you’re working similar hours to other workers on the farm and that you’re getting paid enough (as per the government requirements) then that’s ok. I would recommend contacting immigration though to be sure

  3. Saoirse Cregg-Parker on

    Hi Laura,

    Can I ask how you found this job? I’m on all the fb groups but so many appear to scams so it’s hard to know where to apply to. Were you able to save a lot? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Saoirse, I’m pretty sure it was in a facebook group but I have no idea which one now. I know it can be tricky but that’s why it’s so important to do a bit of background research and get their address and ABN number from them so you can check it will count towards your 88 days. My main advice would be to make sure you don’t feel trapped in a position at the job where you can’t leave if you want to. It’s no different from any other job – you have working rights and a right to be paid and treated fairly and also a right to leave if this isn’t the case.

      Yes I was able to save a good amount to travel. There’s generally not a lot to spend your money on in rural towns in Australia which is a bonus!

  4. Great to see that you are getting out amongst the REAL Australia!! Can you tell I live in a rural area?? So many people never leave the big cities and the coast, and that is their loss. Enjoy the rest of your time here. Mel

  5. Great post!! Really helpful and given me a heads up on what I can expect when I start my dairy farm next month. Thank you ?

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