Managing Milk Harvesting programme for dairy goat and sheep milking industries

20 November 2023

A new Managing Milk Harvesting “micro-credential” is extending skills and knowledge to improve milk quality and production for those working in the dairy goat and sheep milking industries.

The first cohort for the Level 4 Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga course started recently in the Waikato, and there are plans to extend this to other areas that have dairy goat and sheep milking operations. 

Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga Dairy Sector Adviser Karen Dawson says the 4-month micro-credential, adapted from the existing dairy farming Managing Milk Harvesting – micro-credential course, comes after demand from employers in the emerging dairy goat and sheep sector. 

“This is a growing industry, and they want to extend knowledge in the sector to enable farmers to produce consistently high milk quality and do so in an effective and safe environment.”  

The micro-credential suits learners who have at least two years of experience working on-farm and who are in a position of responsibility in a dairy goat or sheep milking shed. Ideally, they would already have completed the other micro-credentials “Assist with Milk Harvesting” and “Optimising Milk Quality”, which are at Level 3 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.  

After attending a one-day workshop, learners complete the micro-credential through the Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga online learning system Mahi Tahi, with the support of both their Training Adviser and on-farm verifier.  

Training Advisers guide learners on how to fit the learning in around their work and other commitments and are in regular contact with learners to support their progress. A learning support team and mentors are also available to learners who require additional support. 

Optimising milk production 

The learning covers understanding milk supplier standards, milk harvesting procedures and production targets, maintenance, and livestock health.  

“They learn that all the actions they undertake on-farm contribute toward making a quality milk product, which can achieve a higher premium for the supplier and higher quality milk for production into other products,” says Karen. 

Learners who complete the micro-credential gain an understanding of how milk production performance can vary due to seasonal conditions, animal health and nutrition. They learn how to optimise milk production, despite these variables, and will be ready to train others in the milking shed. 

Karen says having a Level 4 micro-credential available is a positive development for the dairy goat and sheep milking industries. “One example of the impact for farmers is that learners grasp the importance of having a standard operating procedure on their farm. That is important in an emerging industry and can have a powerful effect.” 

Collaboration with industry 

Karen says the micro-credential development occurred through a collaboration between Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga and the industry.  

“We are excited to make this available. It has come about with the support of the industry who have shared information and contributed to building the learning resources specifically for these learners.” 

And for learners, the workshop and learning also provides the opportunity to collaborate and connect with others in the industry, she says.  

“They can learn about what is working on one farm and compare that to what they might be doing. This information sharing helps them to problem solve, learn, and build connections and networks for their future pathway,” says Karen. 

Click here for more information and to contact your local training adviser.