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Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship


5,520 hours of on-the-job training (90% of hours)

480 hours of in-school training (10% of hours over approximately 2 years)

School Delivery

Location: University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, Ridgetown ON.

What is Apprenticeship?

An apprentice is someone who learns a skilled trade on the job, under the direction of more experienced employees. Apprentices also complete classroom instruction as a part of their training. Ninety percent of the apprenticeship is on-the-job, and ten percent is classroom-based training. Apprentices are employees, so you can earn while you learn the trade. You will need to find an employer who is willing to train you.

Preparing to Become an Apprentice:

To become an apprentice dairy herdsperson, you should complete your grade 12 diploma or equivalent.

What Does a Dairy Herdsperson Do?

A dairy herdsperson is a person who is responsible for the maintenance, health, nutrition, and breeding of dairy cows. They milk, feed and water cows, and work with milking and sterilizing equipment. They perform herd health procedures, routine herd maintenance, and operate and maintain barn mechanical systems and farm equipment.


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.

Applying to be an Apprentice

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:

Step One:

Once you are actually working and your employer has agreed to sponsor you as an apprentice, you/your employer will contact the Apprenticeship Office contact person. You must complete an Application for Apprenticeship Training and submit it to an Employment Ontario apprenticeship office. You can:

  • apply online to start your registration,
  • download and fill out a paper application,
  • meet in person with the Apprenticeship Training Consultant at Employment Ontario, or
  • forms can be mailed out directly to the work site

These forms need to be completed by both the apprentice applicant and the employer, and sent back in to the Employment Ontario apprenticeship office.

Step Two:

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

Step Three:

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

Visit Ontario College of Trades for more information.

Step Four:

After you are a registered apprentice and a member of the College of Trades, the Ministry of Advanced Education & Skills Development will send you a letter (Offer of Classroom Training). When you receive this letter, you can register into the apprenticeship in-school training at Ridgetown Campus.

In-School Training (10% of program hours)

The in-school training focuses primarily on the theoretical knowledge you need to support the skills in the Apprenticeship Training Standard. The in-school component is delivered by the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. To complete the in-school training, you must attend 16 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)

On-farm training follows 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.

Additional Information

To contact your local apprenticeship office directly, call the toll-free Employment Ontario Hotline at 1-800-387-5656, or locate an apprenticeship office near you.

There is a $67.80 (including HST) member registration fee payable to the Ontario College of Trades.

Apprenticeship programs are not eligible for OSAP.

To apply for apprenticeship training in the province of Ontario, you must have completed Grade 12, have documented proof of age and a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Questions about the Apprenticeship Program?
Contact Katie Hunter at 519-674-1500 or email katieh@uoguelph.ca for more information.

Janneke Van Den Nieuwelaar
Janneke, tell us about your experience in the Dairy Herdsperson program at Ridgetown.

"I really wanted to learn more about dairy farming and agriculture, while still working full-time on my family dairy farm. I have enjoyed visiting other dairy farms and learning more about how they are set-up and operate. I like that I can put my new knowledge to use on the home farm between my in-class sessions at Ridgetown."

Janneke Van Den Nieuwelaar
Dorchester, ON
Page reviewed 10/26/2018