Farm Relief Services (FRS) has announced a new programme to offer work exchange opportunities for 18- to 30-year-old dairy farmers to travel to New Zealand (NZ).

The scheme is Immigration New Zealand-approved and is being run in co-ordination with New Zealand Dairy Careers, which allows those in the dairy industry who have already used a working holiday visa in NZ to return again.

Irish participants have the opportunity to experience 12 months of dairy farming in NZ, while dairy farming New Zealanders will have the opportunity to do the same in Ireland, where FRS will place these experienced workers alongside Irish dairy farmers.

The scheme is designed to facilitate "cultural exchange, skill development and career advancement" individuals involved in the dairy farming industry.

Through this partnership, participants have the chance to travel to a new country and gain hands-on farming experience.

New Zealand perspective

Simon Henderson from New Zealand has been working on a farm in Kilkenny as an FRS operator since he arrived through the exchange scheme in January 2024.

Simon Henderson from New Zealand is an FRS farm operator.

“I would recommend the experience to other New Zealanders, as it is a good way to look at something differently and to get to the other side of the world and experience the different farming practices and culture," he said.

"There are more people to less cows on farm in Ireland, so there is good support. The support from FRS is also great to have and makes things a lot easier.

"Cows are wintered off grass, which is different to New Zealand’s common practice, so you gain the knowledge on how to manage housing and animal health in that environment.

"Calving seemed to be a much smoother process than at home and there is great practice from an animal welfare point of view,” he added.

Highlights of the programme include:

  • Irish citizens who have already used their New Zealand working holiday visa allocation are also eligible to apply for this work exchange scheme.
  • Paid job placements for young New Zealanders on dairy farms in Ireland with average wages ranging from €12.72 to €13.50 per hour.
  • Paid job placements for young Irish on dairy farms in New Zealand with average wages ranging from $25 to $33 per hour.
  • On-the-job training in various aspects of dairy farming, including animal health, pasture management and farm maintenance.
  • Accommodation options, pastoral support services, assistance with visa applications, travel arrangements, through to airport transfers.
  • Applications for the programme are now open to Irish and New Zealand citizens aged 18 to 30 with at least 12 months of practical farming experience.

    Interested candidates can visit the NZDC and FRS websites for more information on eligibility criteria and application procedures.