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Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship

Program Overview

A Dairy Herdsperson is a person who is responsible for the maintenance, health, nutrition, and breeding of dairy cows. They perform herd health procedures, routine herd maintenance, and operate and maintain barn mechanical systems and farm equipment.

Becoming an Apprentice

  • To become an apprentice Dairy Herdsperson, you need to complete your Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or Ministry-approved equivalent
  • Credits in math, science, and communications are helpful
  • Some knowledge of agriculture is also beneficial
  • Dairy Herdsperson is a voluntary certified trade and you do not require a Certificate of Apprenticeship to work in this trade. However, an apprenticeship will increase your knowledge and your opportunities
  • Apprentices must be members of the Ontario College of Trades
  • Training will follow the “Apprenticeship Training Standard” provided by the Ontario College of Trades that outlines the skills you need to have to complete your apprenticeship
  • Contact Employment Ontario to learn more about how apprenticeship training works

How to Apply

  • To apply to be an apprentice, your employer must agree to provide you with apprenticeship training
  • If you want to learn more about apprenticeship training or get help finding a sponsor, please contact your local Employment Ontario Apprenticeship Office

There are four steps in the apprenticeship registration process:

Once you are working and your employer has agreed to sponsor you as an apprentice, you/your employer will need to contact the Employment Ontario Apprenticeship Office. 

You must complete an Application for Apprenticeship Training and submit it to an Employment Ontario Apprenticeship Office near you

You can either:

  • Apply online to start the registration process
  • Meet in person with the Apprenticeship Training Consultant at Employment Ontario, or
  • The forms can be mailed out directly to the work site

The Apprenticeship Training Consultant from the Employment Ontario Apprenticeship Office will contact you and your employer about signing and registering a Training Agreement.

After you have your Training Agreement, apply for membership to the Ontario College of Trades by completing a Member Application Form (Apprentices Class).

Visit the Ontario College of Trades for more information.

After you are a registered apprentice and a member of the College of Trades, the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skill Development will send you an Offer of Classroom Training letter.

Once you receive this letter, you can register into the apprenticeship in-school training at Ridgetown Campus by emailing or by calling at 519-674-1500 x63545.

In-School Training (10% of program hours)

  • 480 hours of in-school training is required, which will focus primarily on the theory you need to support the skills in the Apprenticeship Training Standard
  • The in-school training component is delivered, in-person, by the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
  • You must attend sixteen, four-day blocks during your apprenticeship period
  • The four-day blocks are scheduled once per month, from September to April, over a two-year period, usually the first or second week of the month


  • UNIT 1 - Applied Farm Practices
  • UNIT 2 - Milking Practices
  • UNIT 3 - Feeding Practices
  • UNIT 4 - Herd Health Maintenance
  • UNIT 5 - Routine Herd Maintenance
  • UNIT 6 - Farm Mechanical and Electrical Systems – Basic Maintenance
  • UNIT 7 - Farm Mechanical Equipment – Basic Maintenance

On-Farm Training (90% of program hours)

  • 5520 hours of on-farm training with your employer are required, following the Apprenticeship Training Standard which describes the skills you must become competent in to complete your training
  • Your employer must make sure that you have developed all the skills listed under their direction

Connect with us

If you have question about this program or would like to schedule a virtual meeting with us, please contact:

Dr. Augusto Madureira
Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship Co-ordinator
519-674-1500 x63249

Rob Dortmans

"Ridgetown was a great experience for me! The classroom setting is very informative and the hands-on learning is a great way to understand theory in a practical, everyday setting. I enjoyed visiting several different farms and hearing from experts in the industry. I loved having the opportunity to talk with like-minded people that are out in the world doing the work that I would like to do myself."

Rob Dortmans

Strathroy, ON