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Dairy Trainee of the Year

If you're currently aged 18-30 and employed on a dairy farm in a full-time position and haven't been employed for more than 3 years on a dairy farm from the age of 18 either continuously or in total as of 1st June 2023, then you may be eligible to enter the Dairy Trainee of the Year Award.

During judging you'll be assessed on your general knowledge, your practical skills and some fun tasks to keep things interesting. 

Check Eligibility

Find out which category you are eligible for. See eligibility details below.

Create account

Create an Account (or Login if you already have one) to complete an Entry Form during the entry period.

Receive access

Once we have permission, you'll receive an email with instructions on accessing our 'entrants only' portal. Here you'll find extra info including judging tips.


To be eligible for the Dairy Trainee of the Year Award, you'll need to be:

  • Aged 18-30 years at the close of entries 

  • Currently employed full-time on a dairy farm

  • Not self-employed

  • Don't have any equity in a dairy farming business 

  • Haven't been employed for more than 3 years on a dairy farm from the age of 18 either continuously or in total as of 1st June 2023 

  • A New Zealand Citizen, New Zealand Resident or hold a New Zealand Work Visa at the close of entries

  • Meet the additional eligibility criteria set out in the Conditions of Entry 

If you are unsure which category you can enter, please use our Contact page to get in touch outlining your circumstance. 

Role titles you might have to enter this category

  • Trainee

  • Assistant Herd Manager

  • Farm Assistant

  • Herd Manager

  • 2IC

DTOTY Judging Process


   Regional farm location 
  All entrants

Check your regional judging dates to ensure you're free (you'll receive your specific judging date and time closer to your region's judging dates). The first round of judging includes:

  • 6 hands-on practical challenges. Tasks are made up of a variety of levels

  • General knowledge task

  • Fun task


   Regional farm location 
  1 hour
  Top 6 entrants selected from Skills Day first round

Six entrants progress to this final round.

  • 30-minute interview

  • Presentation of a CV to the interview judges


   At Nationals Week location
  Half-day practical + interview
  All regional winners

Regional winners progress to the national final and in May of each year, they are judged by a national judging team to determine the national winner and placegetters. The final interview covers: 

  • General Farming Knowledge - Dairy Shed Hygiene, Animal Health, Calving and Mating Management, Environment, Health and Safety, Feed Allocation and Feed Budgeting

  • Career Development - Career Aspirations & Pathways, Training, Goal Setting, Leadership, CV (Finals Round only)

  • Personal Development - Personal Interests, Community Involvement 

  • Industry Awareness - Awareness of the dairy industry

  • Communication & Engagement - Presentation, Delivery of Answers, Ability to express an opinion, Communication Skills


Check the Judging Criteria specific for each round of judging. Judges in your category are experienced in farming and want to know about you and your farming career.

All entrants receive

  • Hands-on practical feedback after each practical challenge and a summary feedback graph during skills day judging 

  • Written feedback for the final round of judging

Merit Awards

All entrants are also eligible and automatically entered into our coveted Merit Awards in each region, recognising excellence in specific areas.

Skills Day judging awards:

  • DairyNZ - Practical Skills Award

  • Emerging Talent

Final interview round judging awards:

  • Farming Knowledge Award

  • Communication & Industry Involvement Award

Awards events

Regional Awards Dinner

   Your region
  All entrants

Each region has an awards dinner where the merit awards are presented and the Dairy Trainee of the Year winners are announced. These dinners are a fantastic night out and an excellent way to mix with fellow entrants, peers, sponsors and judges.

Regional Winners Field Day 

   Your region
  Regional Winners

The Dairy Industry Awards Winners Field Day is held on the property of the Share Farmer of the Year winner. The winners from the Dairy Trainee of the Year and Dairy Manager of the Year categories are required to attend the Field Day and give a short presentation.

Study Tour

   Nationals Week Location
  Regional Winners

The regional winners enjoy a study tour on their way to  the  National Final. This is where practical judging and fun activities take place.

National Sponsors Breakfast

   Nationals Week Location
  Regional Winners

The regional winners meet a few days before the National Final and enjoy getting to know each other while partaking in some educational and fun activities. Before the National Final Dinner, the regional winners have an interview with the National judging panel. This completes their judging process.

National Final Awards Dinner

   Nationals Week Location
  Regional Winners

All regional winners go on to compete for the title 'Dairy Trainee of the Year' which is held in May each year and announced at the National Awards Dinner. National Merit Awards are also announced here.

Access tailored help

Each awards region has a Regional Manager as well as a Dairy Trainee of the Year Team Leader whose focus is the Dairy Trainee of the Year category. You can get in touch for tailored one-on-one help with your entry. You can also check out our FAQs below.

"My future farming goals are to continue working in the industry, encouraging other people to join and set an example for future generations who are thinking of joining"

Emma Udell
2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year


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