Do you want to run your own dairy farm?
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is a National Apprenticeship registered with the U.S. Department of Labor-Employment and Training Administration. This innovative training program provides paid employment, comprehensive training in all aspects of owning and operating a managed-grazing dairy operation, and the experience needed to transition to farm ownership.
DGA provides a career pathway for aspiring dairy farmers from diverse backgrounds, with different levels of experience. The program is also ideal for established dairy graziers who want to develop a current employee as a manager or partner as well as for family members seeking a structure of support to prepare for farm transfer.
DGA consists of fulltime employment, training, and mentorship under an approved Master Dairy Grazier over a period of two years with opportunities for advancement upon completion. A comprehensive DGA Training Manual (or “Job Book”) lays out the competencies that must be met in order to own and operate a managed-grazing dairy farm, providing a blueprint for the mentoring process.
Major work categories are as follows:
- Measure and manage pastures for optimal quality and quantity
- Manage cattle appropriately-heifers/dry cows, calves, milking cows
- Manage milking operations
- Assess dairy nutritional needs
- Evaluate grazing and dairy farm information for effective decision making
- Manage soil and water resources for productivity and health
- Manage farm business operations profitably
To enhance on-farm training and provide networking opportunities, the program incorporates classes and other educational opportunities:
- Courses in Pasture Management, Milk Quality, Herd Health, Dairy Nutrition, and Soils, Nutrients & Composting, and Farm Financial Management
- Peer Discussion Groups, Pasture Walks, Farming Conferences., and Networking Opportunities
- Holistic Management and Professional Development Training
Formal courses are taught in online format by accredited partner institutions. (Note: Apprentices are responsible for their own tuition, which is approximately $1,500 over two years and subject to change.)
Each Master-Apprentice pair is assigned a local Education Coordinator, who monitors the mentoring relationship and provides educational support and on-farm technical services. Apprentices not only gain skills, knowledge, and experience but also develop relationships with Apprentices and Masters in their cohort as well as with other dairy farmers, agricultural professionals, and service providers in the local community.
Apprentices graduate to certified Journey Dairy Grazier status, receive additional support services as they advance in their career, and have the option of eventually becoming Masters and taking on Apprentices themselves in this unique farmer training program.