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Farm Worker - Beef Production

 Krista Connick - Todd

Beef Farming Overview

The ‘beef’ industry, which includes operations that primarily raise and finish cattle, including feedlots, employs 40,900 people. One of the largest agricultural employers in Canada, the beef industry has undergone a considerable decline in recent years.

  • However, the outlook for beef between now and 2025 is strong, due to a growing demand for animal protein in emerging markets. As a result, output in the beef industry is expected to rise by an average of 2.5% per year during this time.

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Similar to Labourers, Beef Farm Workers perform a wide variety of tasks that depend on the type of operation.

  • Often work is outdoors in all kinds of weather. Workers should be agile to avoid getting injured by cattle (e.g. able to climb over gates), do seasonal work, with a variety of tasks performed depending on the season, and should be able to do some lifting and carrying, although most heavy work is done by machines.
  • Farm workers require minimal or no supervision; operate farm machinery and equipment; and acquire skills/knowledge through a combination of on-the-job training, formal training, and experience. Typically, farm workers need some secondary school education and up to two years of occupational training or farm experience.

Typical Job Titles

  • Equipment Operator
  • Calving Assistant
  • Animal Feeder
  • Animal Health Worker (including feedlot Pen Rider / Checker)
  • On farm Feed Truck Driver
  • Feeding Equipment Operator (feedlot)
  • Experienced Farm Worker
  • Production Worker
  • Herd and Animal Worker
  • Field Equipment Operator
  • Livestock ID Administrator
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What are the major tasks associated to this job?

Farm Workers perform activities related to growing, raising, and harvesting livestock.

  • Comply with legislation, regulations and standards
  • Follow standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Maintain health and safety of self and others
  • Follow environmentally sustainable work practices
  • Maintain biosecurity
  • Maintain facilities, pens and pastures
  • Assist with breeding and calving
  • Maintain cattle health and welfare
  • Move and transport cattle
  • Handle cattle on horseback
  • Process cattle
  • Feed cattle in cow-calf operation
  • Feed cattle during backgrounding in pasture
  • Feed cattle during backgrounding in a feedlot
  • Feed cattle in a finishing feedlot
  • Produce forage and crops
  • Operate farm equipment, tools and technology
  • Maintain equipment and tools
  • Maintain farm infrastructure

What competencies are required for this job?

These competencies were identified as most important for successful job performance.

  • Agriculture Health and Safety
  • Environmentally Sustainable Work Practices
  • Cattle Production
  • Teamwork
  • Animal Health and Welfare
  • Equipment and Tools Maintenance
  • Adaptibility
  • Problem Identification and Problem Solving 

What attracts people to this job?

Workers are at the core of any farming operation – the people who actually do the work. They are also the people who are promoted to supervisory roles and/or trained to become technical specialists. 

  • Ambitious people become Beef Farm Workers to learn how to supervise or manage a beef operation, so that one day they can manage their own

Are there opportunities for growth in this job?

In larger operations, Beef Farm Workers may be moved laterally – from one job to another within the same category. This gives them broader experience and prepares them for technical or supervisory roles. On smaller operations experienced workers cover more tasks.

Either way, Beef Farm Workers who complete the necessary training and are ambitious can expect to move up to specialist or supervisory roles.

What are the typical pay rates and benefits for this job?

Depending on the operation and the region of Canada, pay for Beef Farm Workers ranges from $15 to $20 per hour. Benefits can include:

  • an opportunity to use farm equipment for personal use (workers who own land)
  • extended holidays during slow periods
  • dental and health plans for year round workers
  • products from the operation e.g. sides of beef