Farm Managers are almost always the owner of a beef cattle farm or ranch. They take care of all aspects of the farm, from working directly with cattle to bookkeeping. Their work day is never the same, since they must work around weather, seasonal changes, and sudden changes in plans if a crucial piece of machinery broke down unexpectedly. Farm and ranch owners and operators may have a cattle herd that ranges from cows and calves, to fattening cattle in a dry lot.
- Monitor herd health, including checking regularly for ill or injured animals and keeping up to date on vaccinations and deworming.
- Keep records on herd health management, feeding and feed purchases, sales and cash receipts, farm expenses, and other items.
- Provide feed for livestock when necessary, and free-choice access to salt and mineral source and fresh clean water.
- Have and maintain a grazing management schedule, monitoring pasture quality during grazing season.
- Maintain and repair various types of fences, from board fencing to temporary electric.
- Ensure care and welfare standards are met for herd, keeping with the five freedoms: food and water, absence of pain, social activity, ensure good health, and freedom of movement.
- Keep a feeding program up to date with trends in environmental constraints, feed available as well as size, age and physiological demands of animals to feed; calculate amount needed and type of feed as a means to meet nutritional requirements.
- Maintain and repair farm machinery, including regularly oiling and greasing parts, checking parts most likely to wear and changing them as needed, and acting on machinery break-downs immediately.
- Purchase and/or produce hay. If purchase hay, source supplies and negotiate price for purchase. If producing own hay, operation of machinery must be used to cut, condition and bale in a timely manner.
Skills and Qualifications:
- An overwhelming enjoyment of working directly in agriculture without a feel for the need to make a large level of income quickly.
- Attention to detail, ability to work under pressure, and awareness of physical surroundings are required.
- Willing to work alone and unsupervised where one must self-manage is highly recommended.
- Must be hard-working and able to work and learn quickly in a hands-on, physically- and mentally-demanding environment.
- Knowledge of ecology, plant and animal physiology and morphology, ethology, and basic plant identification skills an asset.
- Experience and knowledge in various trades including welding, mechanics, engineering, construction, electrician and carpentry an asset.
- Understanding of business and financials including marketing, accounting and sales is essential.
- Good oral and written communication skills and Grade 9-level mathematics, as well as basic knowledge in computer programs such as MS Word and Excel are recommended.
Outdoors in a variety of conditions with much physical activity. Walking, sitting, kneeling, bending, squatting and occasionally laying pertains to most of the physical activity associated with this job. Indoors in a home-office environment is also routine.
Education and Training:
Previous farming experience with involvement on the family farm a excellent asset. However, those with no such experience or training can obtain a diploma or certificate from an agricultural college, or a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree through a university offering Animal Science major, Crop Science major, Agribusiness major or related programs. (Note though, that such advanced schooling is only recommended and not required, since most training in such programs are more technical, not societal in terms of working with people and managing a farm on a business level, not a technically scientific level.) Agricultural business training can be attained by taking open-level courses offered by government extension programs (such as the Growing Forward 2 program offered through Alberta Agriculture), or a consultant organization that offers business economics and management solutions for raising livestock, such as the Ranching for Profit School through Ranch Management Consultants.
Many long-time beef farm operators agree that one to two years of experience working directly in the industry with a veteran producer will provide the best experience for a young individual to begin a career raising cattle, from technical to mechanical and business training.
Salary and Wages:
Average hours worked: 47.8 hours per week
Average wage: $23.72 per hour
Average salary (Alberta): $55,776.00 per annum
Farm Manager – for more information on salary expectations, visit www.payscale.com.
Note: The following careers subtending this that pertain to the general Farm Owner/Manager profile have very similar duties, skills and qualifications, working environments, and education and training information as detailed here. Information not shown in such profiles can be linked back to what has been mentioned in here.