A former retail worker who chanced upon a job in the dairy industry said she has found "her job for life".
Waikato woman Tasha Morgan held various roles in retail, sales and even traffic control but a chance opportunity to look after some calves for a local farmer changed all that.
She has now signed up with GoDairy's training course, has a job as a milking assistant in Te Kauwhata and at 31 said she had "found what I want to do in life".
"I now have this amazing job that I love and have a real connection with the cows, my girls, they are so gentle and have such character."
She said even though she spent a lot of the time looking at their tail-end she could tell them apart and could tell when they were having an off day.
"I talk or sing to them and give them a bit of reassurance. It's the perfect job for me where no two days are the same."
Morgan's most recent role was as a traffic controller but most of her working life has been spent in retail and sales.
"I never really found a job I loved until now," Morgan said.
"I am so happy and enthusiastic and love getting up in the morning to work with my girls."
Despite a 4.30am start Morgan said she has never been more driven and said anyone who had lost a job because of Covid-19 should give dairy a go.
Dairy NZ said more women were getting involved in the industry with a jump in the number signing up for milking and calf rearing jobs.
Nearly half the job seekers signed up for GoDairy's new Farm Ready training are women despite females being underrepresented in the industry.
Jane Muir from DairyNZ said women of all ages had shown interest in the GoDairy campaign designed to attract more people into the sector.
Women had been disproportionately affected by job loss because of Covid-19, she said.
The dairy industry was crying out for workers after Covid-19 hit because of the shortage of migrant and seasonal workers.
GoDairy's Farm Ready Training was designed to attract New Zealanders into the roles and provide entry level training.
There was a big emphasis on ensuring new employees understood what is involved in farm life.
The training includes one week of online study followed by two weeks of practical training – covering animals, farm equipment and farm vehicle safety.
"Lots of women have registered to do the training, and the trainees who have got jobs in dairy so far are excelling," Muir said.
Women make up an estimated 31 per cent of people working on farms in New Zealand and are supported by organisations such as Dairy Women's Network and Rural Women NZ.
Women hold key positions at every level of dairy farm life from calf rearer and farm assistant through to manager and farm owner.
"Dairy is a sector where men and women work well together and value each other's perspectives," Muir said.
"But we always need more women stepping up to work in the sector and taking leadership roles."
People interested in registering to do GoDairy training can visit:https://www.godairy.co.nz/