Career Profile: Dairy Herder
Imagine a job that may require you to feed cattle or goats, help sick animals and repair machinery. The hours vary widely and include both day and night work. Some people in this job even live and work at the same place; these people are dairy herders. Being a dairy herder can involve many different tasks, but the basic job is taking care of animals and making sure that they have the food and water that they need. Herders might also assist veterinarians, do basic maintenance of buildings and machines, and supervise other farm workers. They help to keep our dairy, meat and fur industries running.
With experience, dairy herders can increase their level of responsibility in able to earn more money. A dairy herder’s salary is usually between $13 and $20, and the work can be physically tiring, especially in bad weather. However, the chance to work outside the city is a benefit for anyone who loves nature and has skills working with animals.
Many of the skills that dairy herders need come with experience and natural ability, but a university degree in a field like agriculture or animal behaviour can be helpful. Information on some of the specific requirements is available at the Canadian Dairy Information Centre or from a local farmer.
Learning to understand animals and to deal with their problems is an important part of being a dairy herder. Volunteering to work on a farm on the weekends might be a place to start. Dairy herders have to learn to be comfortable around all kinds of animals and to be able to understand their moods and know how to handle them.
Cattle are the most common source of milk in North America, although sheep and goats are also part of the dairy industry. If you work as a dairy herder, you will have to learn to work with large animals that will not always do what you want. You will have to learn how to understand animals and to find out how to make them happy and cooperative. Learning about animal behaviour in an educational institution would be an asset. Formal education in an area such as animal care is useful, although employers might be willing to hire someone with more hands-on experience.
Besides the daily tasks of feeding and milking the animals, herders might also need to clean barns and care for newborns. Dairy herders might need to solve difficult problems when they help sick animals or recapture ones that have escaped from where they are kept. On large farms, some dairy herders might have to supervise other workers and learn how to keep everything running.
Becoming a dairy herder might be difficult for people who have grown up in the city, but it can be a good job for anyone who loves the outdoors and can work with animals.
The Canadian Dairy Information Centre. “About Us.”
Careers.org. “Occupation Profile for Farmworkers, Farm and Ranch Animals.”
Dairy Farmers of Canada. “Animal Health and Welfare.”
Ferrier, Donna. “Herdsman Job Description.”
Indeed.com. “Dairy Herdsperson.”