The beef cattle industry includes grazing and breeding of meat cattle and the operation of feedlots.
The production of meat for profit is the business of the beef cattle industry. Being successful requires the management of the livestock, property, people and finances. The beef cattle industry can be found in all states and territories, across a wide range of climates.
Do you want to work in an exciting, challenging industry that involves handling animals and machinery with extensive out-of-doors work? The beef cattle industry may be for you.
The Australian beef cattle industry is one of Australia's premium export industries. In northern Australia, beef cattle are raised on very large properties (stations) where they graze on native pastures and bush. These cattle are only mustered for treatment or to send them to market. Mustering can involve horses, motorbikes or helicopters.
In southern Australia, beef cattle are often found on smaller properties as part of a mixed farming operation, although some properties do specialise in beef cattle. These beef cattle are often fed on natural and specially grown pastures and are more closely monitored and managed than those in the north.
Feedlotting of beef cattle has become more common in some parts of Australia. It is a method of very intensive husbandry of cattle in large yards where they are fed high-quality, specialised feed.
Many skilled people are needed in the beef cattle industry. These include farmhands, supervisors and managers. Working with beef cattle requires handling animals with confidence and patience, and working for long hours in all kinds of weather conditions.
The type of work carried out on a beef cattle property has been divided into 6 levels. These levels also relate to training and qualifications. The titles for those who work at these levels are:
|Level||Job Role||Recommended qualification|
|Level 2||Farmhand or Station Hand||Certificate II in Agriculture (Beef Production)|
|Level 3||Senior Farm Hand or Station Hand||Certificate III in Agriculture (Beef Production)|
|Level 4||Head Stockman||Certificate IV in Agriculture (Beef Production)|
|Level 5||Farm or Station Manager||Diploma of Agriculture|
|Level 6||Rural Business Manager||Advanced Diploma of Agriculture (Rural Business Mangement)|
A farmhand or station hand in the pastoral country is likely to be involved in a wide range of tasks, working under only limited supervision. Work undertaken as a farmhand or station hand includes:
- operating machinery, equipment and ride-on farm vehicles
- riding and handling horses
- feeding livestock
- mustering and moving cattle
- maintaining and repairing fences
- monitoring cows and handling calves
- slaughtering cattle
- preparing cattle for competition
- maintaining stock water supply equipment
There are a number of ways to get work as a farmhand or station hand.
Many begin working on a beef cattle property as trainees. With a beef cattle traineeship you will start training as an assistant farmhand before moving on to work as a farmhand or station hand.
Individuals with general agricultural experience are often able to obtain work as farmhands or station hands in the beef cattle industry assisting with general property work.
The national qualification available for farmhands or station hands who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Certificate II in Agriculture (Beef Cattle Production).
Priority skills areas for working as a farmhand or station hand includes work place health and safety, chemical use, mustering and handling cattle, property maintenance and machinery and equipment operation.
A senior farmhand or station hand is a skilled worker and is likely to be involved in co-ordinating a wide range of beef cattle and property operations. Work undertaken as a senior farmhand or station hand includes:
- constructing fences
- rearing calves
- caring for working dogs
- servicing and repairing bores and windmills
- pest control
- installing and maintaining property water supplies
- advances horse riding and handling
- loading and unloading cattle
Individuals with extensive beef cattle or general agricultural experience are often able to obtain work as senior farmhands or station hands. The national qualification available for a senior farm or station hand is the Certificate III in Agriculture Beef Cattle Production).
Priority skills areas for working as a senior farm or station hand include workplace health and safety, loading and unloading cattle, animal health, rearing calves, and installing and maintaining property water supplies.
A head stockman has responsibility for a number of workers and a range of beef cattle and property operations. Work undertaken as a head stockman includes:
- supervising feeding operations
- constructing cattle handling facilities
- managing natural mating
- exhibiting cattle
- managing property horses
- supervising and training staff
- managing vehicle and equipment maintenance and repair
- managing maintenance of property water supplies
There are a number of ways to get work as a head stockman.
Many head stockmen have worked on properties as a senior farmhand or senior station hand. Some have completed a beef cattle traineeship.
The promotion of a senior farmhand or senior station hand to head stockman occurs when that person shows they can take responsibility for property operations and supervise the activities of other staff.
The national qualification available for head stockmen who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Certificate IV in Agriculture (Beef Cattle Production).
Priority skills areas for working as a head stockman include supervision of cattle feeding and handling activities, staff supervision and training, cattle mating and breeding, and equipment and machinery management.
A farm or station manager is likely to have significant responsibilities in managing beef cattle production activities. These responsibilities include:
- managing the property and staff
- livestock breeding and production
- selecting and preparing livestock for market
- preparing and managing a budget
- managing feed, pastures, fodder, and crops
Farm or station managers achieve their position when they have shown that they can successfully manage beef cattle production operations as a business. Often they have worked as head stockmen and have a good knowledge and experience with beef cattle production.
The national qualification available for farm or station managers who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Diploma in Agriculture (Beef Cattle Production)
Priority skills areas for working as a farm or station manager include property planning and management, livestock breeding and production, marketing livestock, staff management, and business planning and operations.
A rural business manager has the primary responsibility for ensuring that the beef cattle enterprise is successfully managed. These responsibilities include:
- financial management of the business
- managing the beef cattle production system
- managing human resources
- trading in commodity and product and price
- installing a total quality management system
- whole property planning.
Most rural business managers have had extensive experience as a farm or station managers. Their role is complex, and requires the application of a great deal of knowledge and a broad range of skills.
The national qualification available for rural business managers who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Advanced Diploma in Agriculture (Rural Business Management).
Specialist rural business management training programs are available on a full-time or part-time basis in most states, or by open learning.
Priority skills areas for working as a rural business manager include whole farm planning and management, managing production systems, marketing of products, strategic planning and rural enterprise management.