How to become a Farm Hand

Farm hands assist farmers and graziers with growing crops and feeding and raising livestock.

Personal requirements of a Farm Hand

  • Enjoy practical work
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Able to undertake manual and heavy work
  • Able to handle animals with confidence and patience
  • Enjoy working outdoors
  • Able to work for long hours and in all kinds of weather conditions
  • Able to work both in a team and with limited social contact
  • Mechanical aptitude

Education & Training for a Farm Hand

You can work as a farm hand without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You can also become a farm hand through a traineeship in Agriculture. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Farm Hand

Farm hands may perform the following tasks:

  • cultivate soil, sow crops and control weeds by slashing, rotary hoeing or chemical spraying
  • plant ground crops between rows of trees and bushes to control weeds and soil temperatures
  • construct wire trellises (frames) to support vines, berries and fruit
  • take part in harvesting operations using tractors, harvesters, forklifts and hand tools
  • feed livestock and poultry
  • prepare milking machinery and assist with milking operations
  • clean and sterilise farm equipment
  • clear away animal waste and hose out operational areas
  • perform other tasks involved with the breeding and raising of livestock, such as shearing, dipping, branding, crutching, gelding, marking and assisting with artificial insemination
  • ride horses or motorbikes to muster sheep or cattle
  • maintain and repair farm buildings, bores, fences, machinery, troughs, windmills and other equipment.

Working conditions for a Farm Hand

Farm hand work can be physically demanding. During lambing, calving, mustering, harvesting or fruit picking time, farm hands may be required to work long and irregular hours. Accommodation may be provided by the employer on the property.

Employment Opportunities for a Farm Hand

There are opportunities to progress quickly, once skills are obtained, and to specialise in certain areas, including agribusiness enterprises. Skilled farm hands may undertake further study and, in time, become farm managers, enter into share-farming partnerships or purchase their own farming operation. Others go on to work in businesses and government agencies that service rural communities and farmers/farm managers.

Specialisations:


Dairy Farm Hand/Worker

A dairy farm hand/worker works on farms mainly concerned with milk production. They round up cows, secure them in bails in the milking shed, wash udders with a solution of detergent and water, attach milking apparatus to udders and milk cows. They may also be involved in the breeding side of dairy farming.


Fruit and Vegetable Farm Hand

A fruit and vegetable farm hand assists in the cultivation, harvesting and packaging of fruit, vegetables, nuts and berries on farms, orchards and market gardens. They may be responsible for spraying chemicals to treat disease and pests, irrigating crops and selecting suitable produce for sale as dictated by quality guidelines.


Piggery Worker

A piggery worker raises pigs for meat production or for sale as breeding stock. They breed sows with selected boars, work out feed formulas, inject serum to prevent disease and clean and disinfect buildings and pig pens. They also keep breeding and feeding records.


Poultry Farm Hand

A poultry farm hand works on farms concerned with egg production or raising poultry for sale. They may keep eggs in incubators, look after the newly hatched chickens and provide them with feed and water, and disinfect hatcheries to prevent disease.


Sheep/Cattle Station Hand

A sheep/cattle station hand musters stock for branding, shearing, crutching, dipping and yarding for sale. They also maintain fences, bores, troughs and windmills.

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