Livestock Buyer/Livestock Farmers

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: < 5,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief Split second decisions about the quality of livestock are all in a day's work for livestock buyers. These people can't afford to miss a beat at auctions, where they work to get the best quality stock at the most competitive price for their clients.

There are approximately 8,400 Livestock Buyers/Farmers working in South Australia. Many live and work in regional centres throughout the State, however there are also opportunities for livestock buyers to work for companies situated in the metropolitan area. Majority work in the Agriculture Forestry and Fishing industry. Most persons in this occupation are males with the main age group being 55+ years.

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With a farm, livestock and crops to manage, many farmers don't have the opportunity to get out and about to select their own stock. They engage livestock buyers, who have the knowledge to grade and purchase quality livestock products. People working for large meat companies also employ them to select premium animals for processing. Most livestock is purchased at sale yards, where animals are auctioned off to the highest bidder. A typical day for a livestock buyer starts early so that they have time to assess the quality of the stock before the auction begins. A livestock buyer's experience and knowledge really comes into play as they select and bid for stock. Its their job to purchase premium quality livestock, at the most competitive price.

Education Requirements

There are no formal education requirements to become a livestock buyer, however it may assist you in gaining employment if you have completed studies in agriculture. There are 14% who have either a Certificate III or Certificate IV, 7% have an Advanced Diploma or Diploma, 7% have a Bachelor Degree and 65% have no post school qualification.

TAFE SA offers the Certificate IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Agriculture, Certificate III in Pork Production and Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production).

Career Path

You are not going to get a go at livestock buying without a profile in the industry, so you need to have spent a lot of time working with livestock. You have to be a hard worker and be prepared to work long hours. In general, employment prospects in livestock buying are limited. Employment prospects may pick up because of the ageing workforce. But livestock are now being traded at computer auctions, or prices are negotiated on a weight and grade basis. If this trend continues, the overall demand for livestock buyers is likely to decrease.

Nature of the Job

Depending on whose behalf they are purchasing, livestock buyers will keep an eye out for certain traits and characteristics in the livestock. Livestock buyers discuss these traits and when they apply. ''If purchasing grazier sheep for a farmer, I'll be on the look out for wool length or the size and condition of the stock. The skin of slaughter stock also has a value and its the keen eye of the livestock buyer that assesses its worth. If I am selecting breeding stock, I'm looking for animals in prime condition.

''The auctioneer provides you with a description of what's being offered, the number of animals, their age and weight, but purchasing the best comes down to your expertise. says a State Livestock Manager. The auctioneer starts the bidding at a price that they think the stock is worth, then works backwards until an initial bid is made. When the highest bid is reached, its, 'going once, twice, three times and sold.'

Typical Physical Working Environment

While you'll get to spend most of your time outdoors, in rural settings, remember that there's long hours involved and its pretty tough work. With 20,000 livestock being sold, the auction can take up to seven hours! Growing a Profit ''Its great buying livestock and seeing someone grow them into a profit. But it can be disappointing when livestock prices are low, or seasonal conditions are such that farmers aren't getting a return,'' says Hugh Harding. So, if you have a strong interest in the rural industry and think you have what it takes to be a livestock buyer, start getting as much experience as you can.

Typical Occupational Example

Livestock buyers may also buy and inspect stock on farms (private sales), where stock is mainly graded by weight. If for slaughter, the animals are taken to an abattoir where their quality and weight is assessed and a price is agreed on. A typical day might involve buying 700 mutton for a meat processor, 400 for a farmer and 600 for a grazier. In order to do this, I'm up at 4am, leaving home by about 4.30am/5.00 and on my way to the sale/auction. I might arrive at the sale at around 6.30am''. After Bill has completed his purchases, he will arrange transportation of the livestock, whether it is to a farm, an abattoir, or to the wharf for live export.

For further information, contact:

Agri-Food Skills Australia
Phone: (02) 6163 7200


Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online