Imagine idyllic rural scenes of contented cows grazing in a meadow, new-born lambsfrolicking in the sunshine and assorted hens scratching and pecking around the yard.
Then consider the size of the steaming muck heaps, wet cold mud and miserable winter mornings-that's the other side of working with farm animals!
What are Farm Animals?
Bulls, cows, sheep, pigs, geese, ducks, chickens, goats and some breeds of horse were once regarded as typical farm animals. Changes in agriculture, since WWII especially, haveled to different types of farming.
Llamas, alpacas and ostriches are not considered to be unusual farm animals these days! Beef cattle and dairy herds, along with numerous breeds of sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks and geese still feature most though.
Where to Find Farm Animals
For people born into farming families, the animals and associated farm work is their way of life. For those wanting to get into working with farm animals, there are other routes available. It may not even be necessary to live in an agricultural area.
If there's any sort of family-run farm shop or small scale outdoor adventure park nearby, the chances are there will be a selection of farm animals kept, too! These places can help someone who is new to keeping livestock. Even if there is no paid work available, the experience of helping, perhaps by looking after chickens, pygmy goats, or whatever is kept in the 'pets corner' is worth pursuing.
Agricultural colleges offer full time courses (qualifications may be necessary) evening classes, condensed courses in specific elements of animal husbandry and day-release tuition for those already on farm animal placements. Alternatively, find out if any local farmers are able to offer seasonal work.
Looking after farm animals is hard work, so physical strength is crucial; as is stamina! Even with automated milking parlours, tractors and fork-lift trucks (both need a licensed driver) there is still a significant amount of lifting, bending, carrying and standing to do.Inevitably-with all animal work-a large proportion of time is spent mucking out and generallyclearing up after the animals and preparing for the next mess!
Practical clothing should be worn (preferably overalls kept especially for the job) and sturdy boots, possibly with steel toe-caps, depending on duties.
General duties include feeding, milking, moving livestock, worming, dipping animals and giving medication or treatment where necessary. Strict immunisation programmes must be carried out, some with a vet in attendance. The selection of next season's breeding stock and animals destined for market has to be planned and organised.
Where groups of young animals are kept together various procedures may need to be carried out by experts to avoid injury (like de-horning calves)
There is always work to be done on animal housing! Fence repairs, disinfecting, relocating, hanging gates, erecting shelters, installing automated-watering systems and ventilation-the list is endless and something a new farm worker will be expected to learn and get on with.
All farms have paperwork to do. Workers who are good communicators, computer literate and have efficient record-keeping skills are an asset to any farm office as every animal must have its own details on file.
Future Prospects as a Farm Worker
Wages for unskilled, manual, labour are low. However, the experience gained by doing general work on any farm is a useful start for anyone wishing to pursue a career in rural industries. Without relevant qualifications wages will not increase much, but, the ability andwillingness to be versatile will improve employment prospects.
Opportunities to specialise may present themselves locally. If the unskilled farm worker has an interest in milk production, they can find out what dairy herds are run in their area andmake enquiries. Do likewise with beef cattle, poultry, sheep and pig farming for other farm animal work.
Agricultural machinery suppliers and farmers markets are further options, as is arable farming. The wages may not be very attractive, in some instances, but there are other benefits. Housing is often provided for the right candidates and the rural way of life has many attractions.
I WOULD LOVE TO WORK WITH ANY ANIMALS IN THE PAST I HAVE HAD HORSES,DOGS,CATS AND MANY MORE. I AM IN YEAR 10 AND I AM STRUGGLING TO FIND PLACES THAT WOULD TAKE ME ON. IF ANYONE KNOWS WHERE ANY ANIMAL CENTERS ARE IN BASINGSTOKE PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT THANK YOU
Unfortunately, you would be considered too young if you are in year 10. Most organisations do not take on workers until a person is 16-18.
CareerWithAnimals - 27-Feb-17 @ 11:54 AM
I WOULD LOVE TO WORK WITH ANY ANIMALS IN THE PAST I HAVE HAD HORSES,DOGS,CATS AND MANY MORE. I AM IN YEAR 10 AND I AM STRUGGLING TO FIND PLACES THAT WOULD TAKE ME ON. IF ANYONE KNOWS WHERE ANY ANIMAL CENTERS ARE IN BASINGSTOKE PLEASE LEAVEA COMMENT
JESS.C - 26-Feb-17 @ 1:52 PM
@Sabina - it is always nice to know what you want to do early on in yoru life. You say you are already volunteering, can you ask for work experience in the places you are already registered with? There are all sorts of volunary placements with animals, so it might be worthwhile trying to find out which area you would like to specialise in i.e. whether pets, equestrian centres etc. Perhaps you could call the local vets in your area to see if they may take you on for this period, or other establishments that fit your requirements. Good luck.
CareerWithAnimals - 9-Jan-15 @ 12:58 PM
Hello my name is Sabina and I'm 15 years old. I am interested in doing voluntary work for up to 2-3 weeks work experience. I have had previous experience with different types of animals from dogs, cats, birds, marine life and farming animals.
I know how to handle animals safely and I understand their needs. I am verypassionate about animals and i have always adored them and I've always wanted to become a veterinary
surgeon since the age of 9. Having work experience or a job role specified to care for
animals will help me massively in the future. I volunteer with animals charities and shelters and I foster
cats. my current pets are 8 chickens and two fostered cats
I mostly enjoy doing practical work and I'm always enthusiastic to learn new skills.
Please reply for the details.
Sabina - 8-Jan-15 @ 5:43 PM
I am really interested in animals an I would like to have an experience in a farm with the little animals, I would really do voluntary work I am applying for a lot of jobs an work over the summer as I have just finished school I have worked in a nursery and I love being involved with animals, I have mostly been around horses and ride a lot but I could help out if there is any work. Thank you very much please get intouch!
Bec - 5-Aug-14 @ 1:40 PM
I am 59 years old and unemployed for nearly 2 years, is it still possible for me, whose
only contact with animals in the past has been with my own puppy, who had to be put down after breaking both hips, and work on animal markets.
I want some hands on experiancefor a career change and the contact with animals
may help at this time in my life.
yours Mr A Barton
brian - 11-Nov-13 @ 11:36 AM
I was raised on a farm. Was milking cows at 6 years old and riding horsesand in Gymkhanas before my feet could fit in the stirrups.
I recently was a caretaker of a 90acre farm with 6 boarded horses. I loved my life on the farm. I was there at the breeding, 11 months of pregnancy and birth of a now 5 year old beautiful filly which I named Bunny.I broke her to ride, load in trailer amd stand for trimmings. Ialso rode the other remaining horses
While living in Florida I volunteered at the Marion County Therapeutic Riding Assoc for handicapped rehabilitation.
I have very good references and would be interested in returning to a similar situation. If you are looking for a loyal, passionate, hardworking employee please contact me
Tina - 6-Sep-13 @ 4:55 AM
I am very fond of little pigs(piglets) and would love the opportunity to either work with the piglets feeding them if needing bottle fed.Only thing is I do not have any transport and have no idea where my local pig farm would be. I live in a village called Codsall, Nr Wolverhampton. Please help if possible togive a chance on fulfilling my one and only ambition to hold a little pig , Lesley
les - 4-Feb-13 @ 8:27 AM
i would love to get into working with farm animals . i studied animal science in the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. i would like to work more with farm animals to get more practical knowledge of their management. Thank you.