Stepping stones to a rewarding career

Career pathways in sheepmeat production

Australia is one of the world’s leading producers of lamb and mutton, the largest exporter of mutton and live sheep, and second largest exporter of lamb. The Australian public is among the biggest consumers of lamb in the world and the off-farm meat value of the Australian sheepmeat industry is $3.9 billion.

The Australian national sheep flock is 74.7 million head – there are 43,760 properties with sheep and lambs, and 44.9 million breeding ewes one-year and older.

Major prime lamb production areas include the NSW Riverina and wheat-sheep zone, Murray region and high rainfall areas in south-west Victoria and eastern SA. Major sheep producing areas include south-west WA, south-west Victoria and southern NSW. The sheepmeat industry accounts for 32 per cent of all farms with agricultural activity.

A total of 456,997 tonnes of lamb and 183,157 tonnes of mutton were produced in 2012-13 and the gross value of Australian sheep, lamb and live sheep production is around $2.3 billion (ABARES 2012-13). Lambs and sheep contributed 5 per cent of the total farm value of $47.3 billion in 2012-13.

Australia produces approximately 6% of the world’s lamb and mutton supply.

The sheepmeat sector has developed hand-in-hand with the success of the wool sector. But rather than being just a by-product of wool production, sheepmeat continues to make a valuable contribution to the economy in its own right. Australia and New Zealand dominate the world’s lamb and mutton trade, and well over half the world’s supply of merino wool is produced in Australia.

Competent and skilled people are required in the sector including stationhands, farmhands, stockmen and managers.

* Source acknowledgement for some of this material: Meat and Livestock Australia

Jobs and qualifications

Farm Assistant Certificate I in Rural Operations »
Stationhand or Farmhand Certificate II in Agriculture »
Senior Stationhand or Farmhand Certificate III in Agriculture (Sheep and Wool Production) »
Head Stockperson Certificate IV in Agriculture »
Station or Farm Manager Diploma of Agriculture »
Rural Business Manager Advanced Diploma of Agriculture or Rural Business Management »
Farm Assistant

Farm assistant jobs are usually the start of a career in the sheep and wool industry. Work is usually under direct supervision and includes basic sheep handling, including mustering and administering treatments, riding horses and motorbikes for mustering purposes, property maintenance, and operating machinery and equipment.

Stationhand or Farmhand

A stationhand or farmhand carries out a wide range of tasks but under limited supervision: operating machinery, equipment and ride-on farm vehicles, handling sheep, including mustering, lambing, slaughtering and preparing sheep for competition, property maintenance and operating machinery and equipment.

Senior Stationhand or Farmhand

A senior stationhand or farmhand is regarded as a skilled worker who will coordinate a wide range of sheep and wool and property operations. This includes handling sheep, transport, lambing and parasite control, caring for working dogs, property maintenance and maintaining property water supplies.

Head Stockperson

A head stockperson is responsible for a number of workers and a range of sheep and wool and property operations. This covers supervising sheep feeding and handling operations, preparing sheep and facilities for shearing, maintaining property and water supply, managing vehicle and equipment maintenance and supervising and training staff.

Station or Farm Manager

A station or farm manager has significant responsibilities managing sheep and wool production activities. Usually this includes property planning and management, livestock breeding and production, marketing livestock, staff management and business planning and operations.

Rural Business Manager

A rural business manager has the primary responsibility for successfully managing the sheep and wool enterprise. This role covers whole farm planning and management, production systems, marketing products, strategic planning and rural enterprise management.