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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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!