Life on a Dairy Farm
Afentures Experiences Working Abroad

Life on a Dairy Farm

What was it like working on a Dairy farm?

So, for 3 months I struggled, but ultimately, succeeded in being a Dairy farm hand. The hours were long, the work was physical and the location was rural. How did I cope? Would I do it again? And was it worth it?

Herding Cows - Dairy Farmer
Herding cows in South Australia.

Job Search

Back in May 2018, I was continuously looking for farm work in order to qualify for my 2nd-year working holiday visa. After a few struggles, I found a placement in a small town called Busselton on a Dairy farm.

The first struggle began on a Strawberry farm, planting strawberries. This experience included a daily hour commute, long hours, working in heat and bruises on the knees. Even worse, I didn’t even earn minimum wage, as it was piece-rate paid. I have complete respect for people who continue on with that work but ultimately, it wasn’t for me. I worked for just 5 days.

Next up, the organic vegetable farm. This seemed like a wonderful job, although the commute was almost 2 hours and with a 6 am start, I was leaving the house at 4 am and not arriving home till late in the evening. It was a full-time job, Monday – Saturday. The job didn’t work out because I sprained my wrist and was unable to work, and by the time it was better, the company had had fewer orders, therefore I was back to square one.

Found it!

Luckily and fellow backpacker had supplied a mobile number for a dairy farm back in February. My beliefs around the Dairy Industry clouded my judgement, therefore I didn’t apply. At this point, in May 2018, I was desperate for work and my 2nd-year visa. I contacted the farm and they offered me a trial. I had the job within the week.

The job was located just outside a lovely small town, Busselton. Due to onsite accommodation, it meant no more 2-hour commute!

My new afenture

Started with packing up my minimal belongings, hesitantly buying bedding and living essentials to live alone again. Then the mere 3-hour drive to Busselton, South West Australia. On the first day, my questions and thoughts consumed me. What the hell am I doing? I can’t do this. I don’t even agree with the Dairy industry! How will I cope with the cows?

It was decided, I was going to find out what the Dairy industry was like and obtain my working holiday visa. With extreme luck, the farm was free-range, therefore the animals are always in the field apart from the 10 minutes of milking time in the morning and afternoon. The sick herd are checked and treated in both the morning and afternoon. We took care of our cows.

Dairy Farmer
Dairy Farmer – Kisses

Q&A

What was the hardest thing about the job?

Drafting the cows that no longer created milk. It was extremely difficult picking out the cows that were soon to be on someone’s dinner plate or the shop shelf.

Would I do it again?

No, I have learnt I’m a very emotional person. If a cow falls down, my heart skips a beat. If I hear about a mummy cow getting upset about being taken away from her calf, I feel myself welling up.

Do I regret it?

No, because I’m leaving with a new career-focused mindset, an experience I will NEVER forget and people who have inspired me to dream and live.

The Dairy Team
The dairy Team

What pushed me through the negatives?

Fear of not being able to achieve my goal.

What are the positives from this 3 months experience?

New career oriented mind, passion to travel further, live longer and be adventurous!

Hardest parts about being a dairy assistant?

Physically draining, early morning starts (3.40am), smelling like cow manure, sore arms, cows being cheeky and not moving, living in the middle of nowhere…only a few things!

Milking cows - Dairy Farmer
Dairy Farmer, Milking Cows

Am I still Dairy-free?

Hell yeah! 

All things Dairy are out for good. Not due to the ‘Dairy industry,’ but because I’ve seen so much of it, smelt like and I’m over it.

Selfie with a cow
Selfie with a cow.

Did I complete my 3 months work placement to obtain my working visa?

YES, I DID! And I’m stupidly proud!

What’s the next Afenture?

Well, I think I deserve a real one, right? I decided to go on a road trip up north Western Australia. It was amazing! 

If you’re looking for 2nd-year farm work in Australia, check out my 2nd-year visa guide and learn the truth about fruit picking jobs here.

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