- Plant, fertilize, control weeds and pests, irrigate, and harvest grain, forage (hay and silage), and cultivate as required and when necessary.
- Maintain and repair fences and agricultural buildings.
- Drive and operate trucks, tractors and other powered machinery and equipment, as well as maintaining and repairing them as needed.
- Handle livestock to move animals to different enclosures or to separate ill/injured animals for treatment.
- Feed animals when necessary (i.e. during winter months when animals cannot graze) and ensure care to best on-farm welfare practices.
- Encourage and ensure animal health and care (i.e. monitoring animals for signs of illness or injury, keeping corrals, barns and sheds clean) as well as perform health care protocols for sick or new animals that will require quarantine.
- Attend animals that are birthing, including assisting with difficult births when necessary.
- Process cattle which including vaccinations, branding, dehorning, deworming, castrations as required when necessary.
- Patrol grazing lands primarily on horseback and/or ATVs.
- Move and transport livestock to required destinations: auction marts, new grazing lands, or to home corrals.
- Ensure animals have sufficient water supplies, as well as maintain fencing.
- Protect herds from predators, likely with the assistance of trained stock dogs.
Skills and Qualifications:
- Good oral communication skills.
- Basic knowledge in mechanics, engineering and animal behaviour an asset.
- Physically fit with good health and stamina, and ability to perform physically and mentally demanding tasks.
- No allergies to grains, feeds, animals, dust or any other associated particles that may cause inflammation.
- Class 5 driver’s license required, Class 1 recommended.
- Great hand-and-eye co-ordination and manual dexterity.
- Able to follow instructions, work with other co-workers and work independently.
- Retains a genuine interest in agriculture and a strong willingness to learn on a continual basis.
- Responsible, caring attitude when handling equipment and animals.
- Mechanical aptitude in operation and maintaining complex farm equipment.
- Enjoy having organized methods and clear rules for work and operating and maintaining equipment, as well as monitoring health of crops and livestock.
Work is done primarily outdoors in all kinds of weather, and possibly in barns (more likely with other operations such as dairy or poultry than with beef production), and with use of heavy equipment or horses, depending on the farm or ranch of employment. Risk of injury is prevalent in this job with handling diverse set of equipment and unpredictable animals. Workers will experience exposure to dust, odours and loud noises as well.
Long hours especially during the summer months are to be expected. Repetitive manual labour is still often required despite the increased use and reliance on automation and mechanization on farms and ranches. Farm hands may lift items weighing at least 20 kg on a regular basis.
Farm hands are employed at their own risk of injury or health issue as a result of working on a farm because they are not covered by Workers Compensation legislation, occupational health and safety regulations and standards, nor employment standards in Alberta.
Education and Training:
High School diploma an asset but not required. Training may be on-the-job, depending on the requirement of the employer. Most employers require previous farming experience due to time constraints and much-limited time allocated to training a new employee.
The education and training requirements for farm workers vary from one employer to another. Some employers will hire job applicants who have limited farming experience and provide comprehensive on-the-job training. Others prefer to hire applicants who already have farm experience. Advancement to supervisory and farm management positions may require related education as well as extensive farm experience.
Salary and Wages:
Average hours worked: 44.4 hours per week
Average wage: $18.23 per hour
Average salary (Alberta): $41,952.00 per annum
Farm Worker – for more information on expected salary, visit www.payscale.com.