What Does an Agriculture - Dairy Herdsperson Do?

An Agriculture - Dairy Herdsperson (640D) carries out feeding, health and breeding programs on dairy farms and may also supervise general farm workers. In this career, you would maintain livestock performance records and perform all dairy-producing work including selection, breeding, feeding and medicating the animals.                                                                    

Job Related Skills, Interests and Values

  • reading and interpreting cattle documentation, feed sheets, feeding guides, government regulations and nutritionist or veterinarian prescriptions
  • gaining and putting into practice a good overall knowledge of safety & sanitary procedures followed around animals, machinery, chemicals, & pesticides
  • ensuring cattle health and comfort are maintained by treating cattle health problems, monitoring feeding conditions, maintaining the barn, selecting replacement stock and overseeing the breeding program
  • performing required pre-milking and milking procedures, ensuring that sanitary conditions exist, particularly in the handling, collection and storage of milk; attaching milking units and making necessary adjustments; keeping accurate and up to date milking records
  • hiring and supervising staff
  • using computers and related software to keep production, breeding and financial records
  • performing manure management procedures by removing, storing and spreading manure, while being aware of  and in compliance with biosecurity and environmental issues and regulations
  • preparing for calving by observing the cattle and requesting additional assistance when required to ensure the calf is delivered healthily and safely in an environment that has been well prepared beforehand
  • performing young calf and heifer rearing techniques including correct identification procedures, administering injections and medications to promote good health, implementing and maintaining a feeding schedule for each heifer, and continually observing and monitoring the herd for signs of stress and illness
  • operating and maintaining farm systems, vehicles, equipment and farm machinery
  • producing, harvesting and storing feed crops unless feed for animals is purchased

You may find additional information about this trade and applicable standards at the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website – follow this sector link:http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/membership/resources/training-standards

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

To become an apprentice Dairy Herdsperson you should  complete your Grade 12 education or ministry-approved equivalent with credits in math, science and communication. Students who have not yet completed high school but are 16 years of age and completed Grade 10 can apply to the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and gain work hours towards their apprenticeship. You may also benefit from enrolling in an Agricultural Specialist High Skills Major program. For more details, please visit the following link:


Apprenticeship Subject Pathways provides additional information for students/parents/educators:


Dairy Herdsperson is a Voluntary certified trade and therefore does not require a Certificate of Apprenticeship. However, completing an apprenticeship will increase your wages and your opportunities. Completion of 5520 hours of on-the-job training as well as 480 hours of in-school training is required. The in-school component is composed of 2 eight week blocks or 2 days per month during your apprenticeship training period. Courses include Workplace Health and Safety, Milking Theories and Techniques, Feeding Techniques, Farm Equipment Maintenance, Breeding/Gestation, Herd Health and Safety. Training is available at the University of Guelph at the Kemptville and Ridgetown campuses. This is the minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades.

What’s Your Future as an Agriculture - Dairy Herdsperson?

A Dairy Herdsperson is employed in the service sector by Dairy Farms and Cattle Producers. Some herdspersons work for family farms while others work for corporate farming entities. Employment is expected to grow at less than the average rate for all occupations through to the year 2007 since employment opportunities are linked to the farming economy and the corporatizing of family farms. After completing your apprenticeship, you may advance to supervisory positions, or open your own farm, however establishing a dairy operation requires a very large capital investment.

Employment opportunities in this field are influenced by trends and events in the Agriculture industry as a whole. Related industry websites include: www.cdn.ca, the Canadian Diary Network, milk marketing at https://www.milk.org/corporate/view.aspx,  http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english for government related information,  and for related post-secondary education: https://www.kemptvillec.uoguelph.ca/programs/agriculture/apprenticeship/dairy-herdsperson

After completing your apprenticeship, as a journeyperson you may:

  • work as a Dairy Herdsperson
  • progress to a supervisory position such as Dairy Operations Manager or Farm Supervisor
  • start your own Dairy or Cattle farm
  • become a government inspector
  • work in Ontario's Dairy Industry, as a Breeding Technician, Pharmaceutical representative, Genetics Technician, Agricultural Finance representative, Agribusiness Retail Manager, Feed Company Representative or as a Dairy Research Technician/ Assistant

Wage Rate

  • Apprentices generally earn less than fully qualified Journeypeople
  • As your skills and expertise increase, so does your wage
  • A fully qualified Dairy Herdsperson can earn an average of $15.00/ hour excluding overtime


Ask Yourself: Is Working as an Agriculture - Dairy Herdsperson for You?

Do you like working with animals?

Yes      No

Can you work in a confined area, outdoors, in heat, rain or cold, exposed to animal and farm odours?

Yes      No

Are you in good physical condition and enjoy working hard?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy learning about animals and animal care and putting this into practice?

Yes      No

Do you have the physical stamina to be on your feet for long periods of time?

Yes      No

Are you safety conscious?

Yes      No

Are you an organized, self-motivated person who can work independently or as part of a team to get the job done?

Yes      No

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as a Dairy Herdsperson may be for you!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Farm Supervisor
  • Nursery Stock Manager
  • Bee Keeper
  • Agricultural Service Contractor
  • Grain & Forage Crop Producer
  • Horse Groomer
  • Veterinary Assistant


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