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Livestock and Poultry Producer

Livestock and poultry producers own, manage and direct farm operations that raise cattle, swine, sheep, poultry and alternative livestock.

  • Avg. Salary $74,215.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.00
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
Also Known As

Beef Producer, Farmer, Livestock Specialist, Pork Specialist, Poultry Producer, Rancher

NOC & Interest Codes
The Livestock and Poultry Producer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Farmers and Farm Managers
NOC code: 8251
DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising and hiring farm workers; and in determining amounts and kinds of crops to be grown and livestock to be raised, and in purchasing farm machinery, livestock, seed, feed and other supplies

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to plant, cultivate and harvest crops; and in raising and breeding livestock and poultry

OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving - operating and maintaining farm machinery, equipment and buildings

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 16, 2016

The duties of livestock and poultry producers vary depending on the livestock being raised and the purpose of the operation. However, in general, they:

  • determine market requirements and select breeding stock
  • breed animals using recognized breeding practices to ensure continuous improvement of herds or flocks
  • attend animals during birthing if required
  • feed and water animals during each stage of their growth and development (in most cases, this is an automated process)
  • control the spread of disease and parasites through vaccination and medication and by separating sick animals from the rest
  • maintain proper sanitary conditions and ventilation in barns and other enclosures, and manage waste (manure)
  • maintain pasture or grazing lands to ensure animals have enough feed
  • purchase, produce, process and store livestock feed
  • provide humane transport for livestock
  • participate in developing and implementing quality assurance programs
  • use computer applications to keep production, breeding and financial records
  • evaluate marketing alternatives (packing plants, public stockyards or rural auction markets)
  • maintain enclosures and handling systems
  • repair and maintain barns, buildings, equipment and machinery.

They also may produce, harvest and store feed crops, and recruit and supervise staff.

As well, breeders of purebred animals:

  • keep detailed records of identification, performance and pedigree which provide the basis for genetic improvement and sale prices
  • develop screening programs to continually improve the herd or flock by culling lower quality animals
  • promote their animals to increase market opportunities.

In automated operations, producers must:

  • continually clean and sterilize equipment
  • monitor the equipment being used
  • repair equipment as needed.

Livestock producers usually specialize in one type of operation.

Beef cattle producers own or manage three types of operations:

  • commercial cow-calf operations raise calves for their meat and market them through private sale, public stockyards or rural auction markets.
  • purebred cow-calfoperations raise particular breeds of purebred cattle to sell as breeding stock to commercial herds.
  • feedlot operationsfeed calves or yearlings to a particular level of finish (fatness) before selling them to packing plants for slaughter.

Swine producers own or manage two types of operations:

  • commercial swineproducers keep breeding stock for producing piglets or purchase piglets from other producers, and raise piglets to market weight.
  • purebred swine breedersraise purebred hogs for sale as breeding stock to commercial swine producers.

Poultry producers own or manage two types of operations:

  • egg producersensure the steady production of high quality eggs for consumption or for hatcheries.
  • commercial chicken or turkey producersraise chickens and turkeys for meat and market their meat birds to processing plants across Canada.

Sheep farmers or ranchers own or manage three types of operations:

  • purebred breederssupply the sheep industry with top quality breeding stock of various breeds.
  • commercial lamb producersmaintain a flock of ewes to produce wool and raise lambs for slaughter.
  • feedlot lamb producers feedlambs obtained from commercial herds on special rations until they are ready for slaughter.

Alternative livestock producers own or manage non-traditional types of livestock operations:

  • breeding stock producers raise animals to supply industry with quality breeding males and females.
  • other producers raise animals for slaughter or for the collection of by-products
  • certified organic operations produce livestock and poultry in a manner that abides by the organic production systems general principles and management standards.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Livestock and poultry producers spend a great deal of time outdoors in all types of weather conditions. The hours of work are long and at times irregular. Because livestock must be cared for daily, producers must make alternate arrangements before leaving their operations for extended periods.

Although automation and mechanization have helped to make the work less tedious and physically demanding, heavy labour sometimes is required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Livestock and poultry producers need the following characteristics:

  • excellent health
  • good organizational skills
  • patience and a positive attitude
  • a high level of personal commitment and a high tolerance for financial risk
  • the ability to work independently
  • good business skills
  • a high degree of self-discipline and resourcefulness.

They should enjoy taking responsibility for their operations, taking a methodical approach to their work, and driving and operating machinery and equipment.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Livestock producers must have a good working knowledge of:

  • animal behaviour, nutrition, breeding and genetics
  • animal or bird health and veterinary medicine
  • herd or flock management and performance indicators
  • marketing and market alternatives
  • risk management tools for pricing and production.

They must know where to obtain or how to grow the feed necessary for the particular type of livestock they have, how to manage feeding, when and how to market their product, and how to keep complete and accurate financial and production records.

Individuals acquire the required knowledge and experience by working on farms and taking related education programs. 

The Alberta Green Certificate Program offered through the Government of Alberta is an apprenticeship-style training that combines hands-on farm mentorship with formal education.

The Green Certificate is a complimentary program of study available to students of all Alberta high schools. There are various specializations offered (for example, feedlot beef production and sheep production) at each level. Graduates of the Level I Green Certificate Program are certified as farm production technician and may earn up to 16 credits towards their high school diploma for each specialization completed. Levels II (farm production supervisor) and III (agribusiness manager) Green Certificates are also available for those who are interested in advancing their career in the agriculture industry.

To participate in the Green Certificate Program, trainees must be at least 15 years of age and enrolled in grade 10, 11 or 12. The training takes approximately one year, allowing trainees to experience all of the seasons on a farming operation.

For more information about the program and admission requirements, students may follow the Green Certificate Program link above or contact their school representative to connect with the Green Certificate regional coordinator.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Some operations are controlled by government regulated quotas. Producers must obtain a quota before they can market poultry.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Some livestock and poultry producers own their own operations; others are employed as farm managers. Many people enter the business as labourers or technicians, or through membership in a family owned partnership or corporation. Due to the enormous capital and operating costs involved in getting into livestock production, it is advantageous for individuals who do not have a farm background to learn all aspects of farming operations.

Individuals seeking employment on farms should contact a local Human Resources Skills Development Canada office. Work on a farm may be seasonal or casual. On livestock operations, farm supervisors and machinery operators may be hired on a year round basis.

Experienced producers with formal training may move into related positions such as livestock services representative or agricultural commodity inspector.

Livestock and poultry producers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture. In Alberta, 97% of people employed in this classification work in the Agricultural (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Agriculture industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 37,500 Albertans are employed in the Farmers and farm managers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.9% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 338 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As livestock and poultry producers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for livestock and poultry producers.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Annual incomes for self-employed livestock and poultry producers vary greatly depending on the type of operation, market trends and operating expenses.

Managers negotiate their own contracts and salaries.

Livestock and poultry producers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Managers in agriculture occupational group earned on average from $24.87 to $43.59 an hour. The overall average wage was $33.00 an hour. For more information, see the Managers in agriculture wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
    • Environmental Stewardship
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Beef Producers website: www.albertabeef.org

Alberta Chicken Producers (ACP) website: www.chicken.ab.ca

Alberta Pork website: www.albertapork.com

Alberta Turkey Producers (ATP) website: www.albertaturkey.com

Beef is Your Future website: www.beefcareers.weebly.com

Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) website: www.cattle.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 29, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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