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Farm Labourer - Sheep Production

 Mopani Communications, Canadian Sheep Federation / Fédération canadienne du mouton

Sheep Farming Overview

The ‘sheep and goat’ industry includes operations that are primarily engaged in raising sheep and goats and feeding or fattening lambs. The majority of industry workers are located in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, which account for 40%, 23%, and 22% of the workforce, respectively.

  • With both output levels and productivity trending upward, the ‘sheep and goat’ industry will be able to meet production targets with a smaller workforce. Since 2002, the number of ‘sheep and goat’ farms has fallen by a quarter. However, output has increased during this time, as the industry’s productivity, or the output each worker can produce, has increased by 0.5% per year, so the decline in farms hasn’t negatively affected production levels.

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Sheep Farm Labourers perform a wide variety of tasks that depend on the type of operation.

  • Farm Labourers are fully supervised, may operate farm machinery, and acquire skills/ knowledge through on-the-job-training.  Typically, farm labourers need no formal education or prior farm experience.

Typical Job Titles

  • Assistant Shepherd
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What are the major tasks associated to this job?

Sheep Farm Labourers assist with activities related to growing, raising, and harvesting livestock.

  • Comply with legislation, regulations and standards
  • Follow standard operating procedures
  • Maintain health and safety of self and others
  • Assist with maintenance of facilities, housing and fences
  • Maintain biosecurity
  • Maintain health and welfare of sheep
  • Assist with crop production
  • Provide feed and water to sheep
  • Assist with breeding
  • Assist with lambing
  • Assist with finishing
  • Handle sheep
  • Use equipment, tools and technology
  • Follow environmentally sustainable work practices
  • Assist with post-production activities

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
  • Sheep Production 
  • Teamwork
  • Animal Health and Welfare
  • Continuous Learning
  • Attention to Detail 
  • Adaptibility 

What attracts people to this job?

This job is a good starting point for people seeking temporary or long term employment. In most cases it is not necessary to have farm experience or even any formal working experience, nor is it necessary to have a high school diploma or formal education. This job:

  • Provides people an opportunity to work with animals
  • Gives people an opportunity to work with machinery and equipment
  • Gives rural people an opportunity to work close to home

Are there opportunities for growth in this job?

Sheep Farm Labourers will gain experience, and will learn to perform more complex tasks and activities to become an experienced Worker. With more production experience and some training courses, they can become specialized in some aspect of production, or can become farm supervisors to manage a crew.

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

Depending on the operation and the region of Canada, pay for this job ranges, but tends to be hourly at minimum wage or slightly higher.