A new training course specifically for the dairy goat industry is being rolled out in the Waikato.

The customised practical course is the result of a collaboration between the Dairy Goat Cooperative (DGC) and Primary ITO. The new course, together with a review of previous programmes, was enabled by Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ), a five-year $29.65 million partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries and DGC, launched in August last year.

Dairy Goat Cooperative chief executive David Hemara said there had always been a level of training in New Zealand for those employed in the dairy goat industry, but it was largely modelled on the bovine dairy industry.

"Given the growth of the dairy goat industry we worked – and continue to work - with Primary ITO to review available resources, customise where needed and introduce new courses to provide the skills needed for New Zealand to retain its position as a leading producer of dairy goat milk.

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"Two training courses have been customised to better suit goat farms, providing skills which are easily and consistently applied on-farm.

"Targeted and timely training is key for ensuring goats are healthy and able to produce quality milk. Highly skilled staff play a vital role, continuing to improve the animal welfare, environment, consistency and use of technology on New Zealand's dairy goat farms," Hemara said.

Dairy goat farmer and DGC shareholder Kerry Averill was involved in the review of current training and is leading the rollout of the husbandry course.

"I have always had a particular interest in training to ensure consistency across the industry. As an ex-dairy farmer, converting to dairy goats 15 years ago, I was aware that most of the training elements available to people working in the industry were based on bovine and needed to be tweaked to the dairy goat industry.

"Current students range from newbies right through to people who have worked in the industry for more than eight years but who say that if they even learn one new thing, it will be an asset they can apply back on farm."

Kerry Averill said delivery of course elements was timed to match what was happening on the farm.

"For example, kidding is under way now, so students have been provided with the specific knowledge and skills they need to confidently take care of does and kids on farm. Training is balanced between classroom and on farm so students get a chance to practically apply the skills they've just learned.

"This training is designed to provide a consistent standard which will attract and retain people and give our international markets confidence in the quality standards which apply to New Zealand's dairy goat industry," Averill said.

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The new course is being trialled with DGC suppliers but will eventually be rolled out across the industry, available through Primary ITO.

Dairy goat training

Milk Quality – Stage 1 course

• Held over six months, the training is designed to upskill people employed on dairy goat farms with best practice for collecting, handling and storing milk.
• The revised course was delivered for the first time in December 2018 and more than 50 students have completed the course to date.

Livestock Husbandry – Dairy Goat (Level 3) course

• Currently being trialed in the Waikato on DGC supplier farms.
• Initial intake of 16 students.
• Held over 12 months, the course provides students with knowledge and practical skills required over the seasonal calendar including insight to the psychology of dairy goats (as distinct from their bovine counterparts), breeding and kidding, nutrition and animal health.