What they do
Sheep farmers organise and manage sheep and wool production, which includes breeding and raising sheep, sale of sheep meat and wool, budgeting and business management, and staff management. They also care for the maintenance of the property including fences, equipment and water supply systems. In Western Australia, sheep farmers usually work on farms located in rural regions across the south and south-west of the state.
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.
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.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a sheep farmer without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in agriculture or a related area.
The Certificate II, III and IV and Diploma of Agriculture are offered at TAFE colleges throughout Western Australia. To find a training provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website or visit the My Skills website.
You can also undertake a traineeship in agriculture (level 2 or level 3). The traineeships usually take 12 months to complete and the level 2 traineeship is available as a school-based traineeship.
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.