Sheep & Beef

If you're keen on working in the Sheep & Beef industry, and you love being outside and working on the land; there are many different on-farm career paths you could take. Here's just a few:

Farm Assistant

Farm Assistants 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.

Every day is different; on any given day you could be shifting sheep or cattle between paddocks to comply with pasture management systems; drenching and dipping sheep and cattle to maintain animal health; or even maintaining and repairing buildings, yards, fences and water systems.

Types of Jobs:

  • Shepherd
  • Farm Assistant

Is it for me?

Working as a farm assistant would suit someone who enjoys working outside, likes animals, and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty or sometimes working long or irregular hours.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science

There aren't specific requirements for winning a job as a farm assistant, although you may be required to have your own dogs in certain cases. Working as a farm assistant can be a great start to a career on-farm - often you don't even need experience. Sometimes completing an agricultural course can increase your chance of employment.

Hours:

Farm Assistants will often start at around 7am and work through to late afternoon or evening; these hours may change depending on the season. Farm Assistants are often required to do some weekend work.

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 on Sheep & Beef farms.

Pay:

Shepherds or Farm Assistants will generally earn an average salary of $40,000; which may include a benefits package which may include benefits such as houseing, meals, power, petrol and training.

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Farm Manager

Farm Managers are responsible for the planning and day-to-day management of farms, and need to understand the seasonal timing of tasks and duties. Farm Managers are often in charge of staff members and need to know about running a business as well as caring for stock.

Farm Managers can be expected to do any of the following jobs and more: pasture and stock management; hire and supervise employees and contractors; buy and sell stock; muster and shift stock; wean lambs; drench, dip dag and shear sheep; buy/make feed such as silage and hay; general farm maintenance and know how to handle and train dogs.

Types of Jobs:

  • Farm Manager
  • Equity Share or Lease Farmer

 Is it for me?

Working as a farm manager would suit someone who enjoys working outdoors, handling animals and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty. A farm manager needs to be able to manage staff as well as a farming operation.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science.

There are no specific requirements for becoming a farm manager but a lot of experience and farming knowledge is necessary; a qualification can also be of help.

Hours:

Farm Managers hours will vary depending on the season (they're often a lot busier from Winter to Summer), but will often start as early as 7am and work through til late afternoon/evenings. They can often be expected to work weekends too.

Chance of employment:

There is a general shortage of farm workers and managers in New Zealand so chance of employment will be high.

What's the pay like?

A farm manager will earn an average of between $46,000 to $60,000. This may include benefits such as housing, petrol allowance, power and even some meals.

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Stock Manager

Essentially a Stock Manager's job is the next step up from Farm Assistant and carries the responsibility of looking after a herd and carrying out stock management. The Stock Manager will assist the Farm Manager or Owner.

A Stock Manager's job varies from day to day and may include any of the following jobs and more: Shifting stock between paddocks; maintaining buildings, yards and fences; monitoring animal health; shearing sheep; training and working your own dogs.

Is it for me?

A Stock Manager must enjoy working with and caring for animals. This means everything from animal health to pasture management to ensure animals are appropriately cared for. You'll need to love working outdoors.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science.

There are no specific requirements to becoming a Stock Manager, but generally you would have to work your way up from being a Farm Assistant or Shepard. Qualifications aren't necessary but could be helpful.

Hours:

You could be expected to work anywhere between 40 to 50 hours a week, often starting around 7 and finishing at 5. This may be longer during busy seasons. Some weekend work can also be expected.

Pay:

A Stock Manager will earn on average between $30,000 to $50,000 a year and other extra benefits may also be received such as housing, free meat, vet bills for working dogs or even petrol allowances.

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Crop Farmer

Crop Farmers assist or manage farms that grow a wide variety of crops. These include cereals such as wheat, barley or maize; pulses, such as peas and beans; vegetable crops, such as potatoes, carrots and onions; and grasses for seed.

Crop Farmers may do some or all of the following and more: Decide what crops will grow and in what paddocks; prepare land for planting and plant seeds; shift irrigators; comply with spray and environmental regulations; harvest and sell crops; train and supervise farm workers; burn or bale stubble or straw after harvest.

Is it for me?

If you enjoy working outdoors, horticulture and operating machinery then crop farming could be for you. You need to be willing to work late and irregular hours as well.

How to get there:

Useful subjects to take at school are: agriculture, horticulture, workshop technology, maths, English and science. There are no specific requirements to becoming a Crop Farmer, but an agricultural qualification should help. You can become a Crop Farmer apprentice through the Modern Apprenticeships scheme. It's is essential to have a driver's licence and a heavy vehicle driver's licence is useful too.

Hours:

Crop Farmers will generally work between eight to ten hours a day, but you could be expected to work long and irregular hours (including weekends) during the busy seasons such as harvest in the Summer.

Chance of employment:

If you're enthusiastic and experienced or hold a relevant qualification, you should find it easy to be employed as a cropping farmer. September to March is the best time to look for work as this is the busiest season.

Pay:

A Crop Farmer will earn anywhere between $30,000 to $70,000 a year depending on qualifications, experience and seniority of position held. Pay will also depend on the scale and profitability of the cropping operation.

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