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Sheep farmer

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Summary of occupation

​Sheep farmers organise and manage sheep and wool production, which includes wool growing and harvesting, livestock breeding and raising lambs, sale of sheep meat and wool, budgeting and business management, and staff management. They also look after maintenance of the property including fences, equipment and water supply systems. Sheep farmers usually work on farms located in rural regions across the south and south-west of Western Australia.

ANZSCO description: Plans, organises, controls, coordinates and performs farming operations to breed and raise sheep for wool, meat and breeding stock.
Alternative names: Sheep Farm Manager
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

​A sheep farmer needs:

  • an interest in sheep and wool production and animal husbandry
  • mechanical aptitude and to be able to work with computers
  • planning, analysing and problem-solving abilities
  • the ability to manage a team and work independently
  • good communication and organisational skills
  • to enjoy working outdoors
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Working conditions

​Sheep farmers work on the farm in an office setting and outdoors in all kinds of weather. During breeding seasons and prime sales periods they may work long hours. They work with animals that may bite and kick, and operate heavy machinery. This requires them to adhere to occupational health and safety standards to reduce the risk of injury. 

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Salary details

On average, sheep farmers, classified under livestock farmers, can expect to earn $1 712 per week ($89 008 per year) depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

Many sheep farmers own and manage their own business. Earnings will depend on the level of demand for their products, commodity prices, and local and international markets, as well as expenses associated with running the farm.

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Tools and technologies

​Sheep farmers use heavy equipment such as tractors, and hand tools to maintain vehicles and fences. Chemicals are commonly used with farming livestock. Protective clothing such as gloves, goggles, coveralls, and steel toe boots are worn to minimise risks. Sheep farmers need to be proficient with computers and may need to use specialised farm management software.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​You can work as a sheep farmer without formal qualifications, however, skills in farm management or livestock production are usually required. You may be able to gain these skills through work experience in a related role or by completing a formal qualification in agriculture or a related field.

The Diploma of Agriculture is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a degree majoring in agribusiness, agricultural science or animal science.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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