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Farm Labourer - Swine Production

 Alberta Pork

Swine Farming Overview

The 'swine' or hog industry, which includes farm operations that primarily raise hogs and pigs, accounts for just 4% of the total agricultural workforce. More than half (55%) of the industry’s workforce is concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, with the Prairies accounting for another 35% of the workforce.

  • While domestic demand for pork products is expected to remain weak, the global demand will increase due to the growing disposable incomes in emerging countries, and the Canadian hog industry is expected to benefit from this trend.

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

  • Swine Farm Labourers work regular days (8 to 9 hours) in sheds, barns, and nurseries. The work can be physically demanding and may include some lifting and carrying. Most work is inside and protected from the weather.
  • 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

  • Animal Care Labourer
  • Hog Farm Labourer
  • Barn Washer
  • General Farm Worker
  • Farm Assistant
  • Animal Husbandry Worker
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What are the major tasks associated to this job?

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

  • Comply with legislation, regulations and standards
  • Follow standard operating procedures 
  • Follow environmentally sustainable work practices 
  • Maintain health and safety of self and others 
  • Maintain biosecurity 
  • Maintain health and welfare of swine 
  • Assist with maintenance of facilities, rooms and pens 
  • Assist with maintenance of feed and water 
  • Assist with breeding 
  • Assist with farrowing and weaning 
  • Assist with nursery activities 
  • Assist with grow-finishing 
  • Assist with moving and transporting swine 
  • Use equipment, tools and technology 
  • Assist with maintenance of equipment, tools and technology

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
  • Swine Production
  • Teamwork
  • Animal Health and Welfare
  • Continuous Learning
  • Interactive Communication
  • Attention to Detail

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 swine experience or even any formal working experience, nor is it necessary to have a high school diploma. Notably:

  • Good people do not remain at the entry level for long
  • Provides opportunities to work with animals
  • Provides opportunities to work and live in a small town or rural setting
  • Some people reach the supervisory and management levels without a high school diploma

Are there opportunities for growth in this job?

Swine Farm Laboureres with experience take on more complex tasks and activities and eventually become experienced Workers. With more production experience and some training courses, they could become specialized in some aspect of swine production, or become Swine 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. Benefits can include:

  • Christmas bonuses, and medical dental and RRSP contribution matching after a three month probationary period.