Shepherds typically assist the farm owner or manager in a variety of duties concerned with breeding, raising and care of livestock, the growing of crops and other farm activities.
Working as a Shepherd would suit someone who enjoys working outside, likes animals, and doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty, or sometimes working long or irregular hours. You need to be honest, trustworthy, and reliable.
Every day is different; on any given day you could be shifting or mustering stock to comply with pasture management systems.
Some tractor work will be required, e.g. feeding out, cultivation etc. Other tasks include weighing, drenching and dipping stock to maintain animal health; scanning ewes and helping with lambing, tailing and shearing; or even maintaining and repairing buildings, yards, fences and water systems.
Having your own team of dogs can give you independence and, if you prove yourself, more responsibility.
Shepherds hours vary from season to season. They are often longer in the summer and shorter in the winter. Some weekend work should be expected.
Chances of Employment:
Although the number of farms in New Zealand has decreased, the size of farms has increased and there are less people coming through as other job opportunities become available. This means that there are good opportunities for employment.
Shepherds will generally earn an average salary of $40,000; which may include benefits such as housing, petrol, power, meat, vet bills for working dogs and even some meals.
Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, math’s, english and science. There aren’t specific requirements for winning a job as a Shepherd, although a good team of dogs can make you very employable. Working as a Shepherd can be a great start to a career on-farm; often you don’t even need experience. Completing an agricultural course can increase your chance of employment, for example a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln or Massey University. You could also join the AgITO Modern Apprenticeships scheme.