Solving staff shortages in time for calving

Solving staff shortages in time for calving

1 June 2022

With calving just around the corner, filling any gaps in your team is likely to be top of mind right now, writes Jane Muir, DairyNZ Solutions and Development Lead Advisor.

Unemployment is at a historical low and many sectors (including dairy) are finding it tough to get staff. Getting both Kiwis and international workers onto dairy farms in time for calving is a priority for us all.

To help attract Kiwis, DairyNZ's new GoDairy Go Now campaign is highlighting the benefits of working in dairy and the opportunities available to job seekers. It also points candidates to the latest sector vacancies.

The campaign is helping raise the profile of the jobs available and it's then up to farmers to ensure those are great jobs.

In such a competitive job market it's important that your job ad is accurate and appealing. As people increasingly seek work-life balance, there's a growing expectation that roles will offer good rosters and hours. Adding in factors like flexible milking, development opportunities and a competitive salary package will make roles more appealing and help you attract quality staff.

Coming up with fresh ideas on how to improve your workplace - to both attract new staff and keep the ones you have - is a challenge. But I encourage you to explore what you could do to attract, and keep, good people.

DairyNZ has a new webinar on recruitment and retention online that has some great tips from other farmers and a rural recruitment specialist. Visit

Where farmers are struggling to fill a position locally, workers can come into New Zealand through the dairy border class exception.

Sustained advocacy by DairyNZ led to the Government increasing the number of international dairy workers. For 2022, the number increased from 300 to 800. The minimum wage requirement for these international workers is $28.

The process is much simpler than last year - as there are no isolation or MIQ requirements. There is also no cap on farm assistant numbers. With air travel opening up again, booking flights is becoming easier too.

If you will need an international worker on board this spring, we recommend you apply now to allow time to work through the immigration processes. To find out more, visit

Got a dairy vacancy? Let's help sort it for you!

If you have an on-farm dairy role available, list it at You can list a vacancy, even if you're not a Fonterra supplier. The campaign underway now directs job applicants to farm positions advertised on Farm Source.

If you're having trouble filling a role, and want to apply to bring an international worker into New Zealand, the dairy class exception visa is a good option to consider. The visa is currently the only pathway to bring in international workers.

To find out more and apply, visit