Career change

Hello,

I am in my mid 20s and am currently in the final year of a Bsc Psychology degree. My initial aim was to use my degree to work towards a career related to psychology or healthcare. However, I have always had an interest in the countryside and rural life, with a yearning to spend my days outdoors in all weathers, so I am considering pursuing a career in farming (ideally livestock). I do not have a family background in farming nor do I have any relevant work experience, so I appreciate I would have to start from the bottom rung of the ladder (n.b I am unable to work on a voluntary basis or relocate due to family commitments). With this in mind, is there anyone that can offer me advice on the potential routes I could take to begin a career in farming?

p.s. I am aware the RAU offers a Graduate Certificate in Agriculture which, according to their website, can lead to a career in farm management, but I am unsure of how realistic it would be for me to find a position considering my lack of farming experience.

Thank you for your time.
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
What area? There is always someone in most areas that need someone a few days a week to relieve someone else or to give an extra hand.
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
Hello,

I am in my mid 20s and am currently in the final year of a Bsc Psychology degree. My initial aim was to use my degree to work towards a career related to psychology or healthcare. However, I have always had an interest in the countryside and rural life, with a yearning to spend my days outdoors in all weathers, so I am considering pursuing a career in farming (ideally livestock). I do not have a family background in farming nor do I have any relevant work experience, so I appreciate I would have to start from the bottom rung of the ladder (n.b I am unable to work on a voluntary basis or relocate due to family commitments). With this in mind, is there anyone that can offer me advice on the potential routes I could take to begin a career in farming?

p.s. I am aware the RAU offers a Graduate Certificate in Agriculture which, according to their website, can lead to a career in farm management, but I am unsure of how realistic it would be for me to find a position considering my lack of farming experience.

Thank you for your time.
What's your location? As @AI R has said there will be some work locally to you to get you started.
Like you, I was outside the industry untill mid/late 20s. Took part time work relief milking before taking the plunge to a full time job. 28 years later, I am now 3 farm jobs and 4 farm tenancies further on. No regrets! 😎
Forget the RAU farm management stuff. If you're good, then opportunities (both for work and training) will come your way.
Good luck!
 
Morning both,

I appreciate your responses. I am based in the South Staffordshire/Shropshire border. I regularly check the job boards but there doesn't tend to be any vacancies nearby for a general farm hand. I guess the best way would be to be contact farms directly?

Also, any reason why the RAU course wouldn't give me an advantage? (The reason I had looked intothis option was so I could use my degree so my last three years of studying didnt feel like a waste!)
 

egbert

Member
Trying to avoid gags about how your Psychology degree might be useful in checking whether you've gone bonkers.....

There's 2 quite different routes.
Employed/Self employed working for others, (whether full time salaried, or the other end, selection of part time work) where you won't need large chunks of capital, the risks are fairly low, and you'll be more or less sure of earning a living if you've got the work.

There's a world full of work needs doing, and, as they say, a tonne of people who want to sit in the warm tapping buttons on the keypad.
(fancying the outdoor life from inside isn't the same as living it!)
Finding where you'd slot best is the difficult bit.

Or, if you want to go farming in your own right, you'll need capital, nouse, graft, and a bit of luck.
Your skill base will need to widen rapidly, and there's a good chance you'll be cash poor for a long while.
(only giving you fair warning!)
There are those who will reasonably be telling you in a minute how you can retail your product, and make a good living off a small farming operation. But they're telling you to go into sales, and you asked about farming.

Give us steer...where are you? What field of the trade interests most? etc
 

egbert

Member
Morning both,

I appreciate your responses. I am based in the South Staffordshire/Shropshire border. I regularly check the job boards but there doesn't tend to be any vacancies nearby for a general farm hand. I guess the best way would be to be contact farms directly?

Also, any reason why the RAU course wouldn't give me an advantage? (The reason I had looked intothis option was so I could use my degree so my last three years of studying didnt feel like a waste!)
ah, you overtook me.
Yes, go and ask.
Be open and sensible, look em straight in the eye, and don't be afraid of getting your hands dirty.
Your degree won't open many doors - or yard gates, sorry.

Be ready for a wage half of what you might've been expecting elsewhere!
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
Morning both,

I appreciate your responses. I am based in the South Staffordshire/Shropshire border. I regularly check the job boards but there doesn't tend to be any vacancies nearby for a general farm hand. I guess the best way would be to be contact farms directly?

Also, any reason why the RAU course wouldn't give me an advantage? (The reason I had looked intothis option was so I could use my degree so my last three years of studying didnt feel like a waste!)
Farming is such a practical enterprise, you can be as intelligent as Einstein but if you can’t tell when an animal is ill or needs help which is often basic common sense then it won’t be for you..
Those farm management courses tend to be for people aspiring to work for land agents or 2,000+ acre farms and often they don’t have a clue about anything practical.

People wouldn’t advertise low houred jobs on the jobs board. If I had someone ultra keen near me I’d take them on a few days a week, you get a few farms that would do that and your full time between a few places.
 

teslacoils

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
Also, any reason why the RAU course wouldn't give me an advantage? (The reason I had looked intothis option was so I could use my degree so my last three years of studying didnt feel like a waste!)
Because life loves a doer or a trier.

I have a degree in East European languages. Never used it since I left school. Still don't consider it a waste. What's a waste is realising in 20 years time that you should have just gone round seeing if local farms needed a bit of a hand and cracked on.
 
I have no qualifications, had no previous experience even relevant to farming and tried loads of "internet jobs". You can't beat walking into a farm yard, looking a farmer in the eye and being honest. After that....work hard, get dirty and don't expect much in return for a while. Minimum wage and the dirtiest of jobs is to be expected for a while. Do what you can to gain the experience then re-evaluate what you want to do and where you want to go in the future. 10 years flies by if you enjoy the job!!!!!
 
Apologies for not replying to anyone directly, I'm still getting to grips with the forum. The general consensus seems to be that experience trumps qualifications, so thats definitely given me some food for thought regarding what approach to take. In response to Egbert, I have no start up capital (the joys of being a skint student) so I will seek opportunities on nearby farms, visiting them in person if possible

I'm fine with earning minimum wage for a while, as money and possessions have never been motivating factors in my life. However, I don't want my family to be struggling to get by for the next couple of decades, so is there a very approximate timescale for how long it takes to move up the ladder, e.g. taking on a tenancy, assistant farm manager etc (I'm not in a mad scramble to get to the top, i just want to provide a decent lifestyle for the children).

From following various 'celeb' shepherds such as Amanda Owen and James Rebanks, i have fallen in love with the idea of sheep farming. Is that realistic in the Staffordshire/Shropshire area?
 

JP1

Member
Livestock Farmer
Apologies for not replying to anyone directly, I'm still getting to grips with the forum. The general consensus seems to be that experience trumps qualifications, so thats definitely given me some food for thought regarding what approach to take. In response to Egbert, I have no start up capital (the joys of being a skint student) so I will seek opportunities on nearby farms, visiting them in person if possible

I'm fine with earning minimum wage for a while, as money and possessions have never been motivating factors in my life. However, I don't want my family to be struggling to get by for the next couple of decades, so is there a very approximate timescale for how long it takes to move up the ladder, e.g. taking on a tenancy, assistant farm manager etc (I'm not in a mad scramble to get to the top, i just want to provide a decent lifestyle for the children).

From following various 'celeb' shepherds such as Amanda Owen and James Rebanks, i have fallen in love with the idea of sheep farming. Is that realistic in the Staffordshire/Shropshire area?
Sheep would be a lower entry cost for you

You can build a flock and capital base

Where you are I’d be looking (eventually) at farming arable farmers looking for a hands off green manure
as opposed to chasing grazing grass that everyone chases
 
Apologies for not replying to anyone directly, I'm still getting to grips with the forum. The general consensus seems to be that experience trumps qualifications, so thats definitely given me some food for thought regarding what approach to take. In response to Egbert, I have no start up capital (the joys of being a skint student) so I will seek opportunities on nearby farms, visiting them in person if possible

I'm fine with earning minimum wage for a while, as money and possessions have never been motivating factors in my life. However, I don't want my family to be struggling to get by for the next couple of decades, so is there a very approximate timescale for how long it takes to move up the ladder, e.g. taking on a tenancy, assistant farm manager etc (I'm not in a mad scramble to get to the top, i just want to provide a decent lifestyle for the children).

From following various 'celeb' shepherds such as Amanda Owen and James Rebanks, i have fallen in love with the idea of sheep farming. Is that realistic in the Staffordshire/Shropshire area?
Just have a look in the livestock and forage section, there’s a thread running, Making a living from sheep and suckers, it don’t sound too rosy trying to make a living from purely livestock farming on a relatively small scale.
 
Location
East Mids
Apologies for not replying to anyone directly, I'm still getting to grips with the forum. The general consensus seems to be that experience trumps qualifications, so thats definitely given me some food for thought regarding what approach to take. In response to Egbert, I have no start up capital (the joys of being a skint student) so I will seek opportunities on nearby farms, visiting them in person if possible

I'm fine with earning minimum wage for a while, as money and possessions have never been motivating factors in my life. However, I don't want my family to be struggling to get by for the next couple of decades, so is there a very approximate timescale for how long it takes to move up the ladder, e.g. taking on a tenancy, assistant farm manager etc (I'm not in a mad scramble to get to the top, i just want to provide a decent lifestyle for the children).

From following various 'celeb' shepherds such as Amanda Owen and James Rebanks, i have fallen in love with the idea of sheep farming. Is that realistic in the Staffordshire/Shropshire area?
You don't need to be an assistant farm manager to earn a decent wage, once you have some experience, we were just warning you to expect that for the first year or so. A decent stockperson /general farm worker (beef/sheep/some field work) should earn £25k, usually with some overtime. An assistant (dairy) herdsperson, £25-£30k, a herd manager up to double that. Assistant farm managers require a large farm to justify a post and there are not many about, compared with the jobs listed above. If you are employed, any decent employer will pay for vocational / short course training on various topics if you are worth investing in and you can always do a more academic qualification through distance learning or day release on a few years time. Regarding sheep farming - yes there would be some opportunities in your area, especially the hillier bits, although possibly not as a full time shepherd, more a general farm worker on a farm with sheep, get someone else to train you up as an employee and then after a few years when hopefully you might have saved a bit, start your own enterprise. A lot of folks start a small enterprise alongside workng full time - some never get bigger, others bite the bullet, leave the day job and try and make a go of it. More arable farms are now wanting sheep back in the rotation but not necessarily the hassle of a flock of their own so there may be an opportunity to provide grazing services if you build your own flock. Psychology will be useful with sheep, they have their own mindset.
 
Once again thank you everyone for the replies and great advice. I have no desire to take part in mass scale farming, so gaining a few years of hands on experience before building a small enterprise does sound ideal.

@ajcc is there any reason in particular you say that? Honest feedback is appreciated.
 

texelburger

Member
Location
Herefordshire
Maybe it might be worth enrolling on a day release course in sheep husbandry at your local ag college whilst working for someone at the same rime.As people have said the wages may not be high but the job can have certain perks if you have the right farmer/boss.Firstly there may be the opportunity to have a farmerworkers cottage where you might well pay a peppercorn rent,this would usually be on the farm so no fuel use travelling to work.Secondly there might be a few perks such as a bit of meat for the freezer or a few vegetables etc.
So what I'm trying to say is that although wages can be modest there can be certain perks on the right farm.
Good luck.
 

Yale

Member
Livestock Farmer
Once again thank you everyone for the replies and great advice. I have no desire to take part in mass scale farming, so gaining a few years of hands on experience before building a small enterprise does sound ideal.

@ajcc is there any reason in particular you say that? Honest feedback is appreciated.
I know where Ajcc is coming from.

Until you have done a few years of working with say sheep you won’t be able to take off the rose tinted glasses.

You will know you have got there when you have lambed an ewe with dead lambs and your arm stinks for a day after or tried with the ewe with ring womb for an hour then failed.

Its certainly character building.:woot:
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
Volunteer as a lambing assistant somewhere. Shadow somebody for a couple of days training then get on with. It’s not as easy as it looks. Moments of joy, yes, and moments of medieval style stomach churning heart rending tragedy that you won’t have seen the likes of on TV. It’s a hard job not for the faint hearted. The landscape and open air is nice but there is a lot of stink, backache and mind numbingly tedious repetitive stuff. You don’t notice the landscape after a while. You are too busy juggling withdrawal dates on wormers and fly strike preventatives. And buy a microscope because you will need it to help formulate an effective worming programme / fluke control/ lice treatment.
Don’t take any notice of the dream farm TV programmes. They are bought by folks with money to burn and lose money hand over fist.
Also note that farmers aren’t that chirpy when the cameras aren’t on them. A sleep deprived farmer is probably the grumpiest person in the world to work for so you’ll need a brass neck and balls of steel.
Good luck. You’ll need it.😆
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
The problem with sheep is you can’t take a gas axe to them or weld them up or leave them overnight and sleep on it if there is a problem. Doesn’t matter if it’s 2am on Bank holiday Monday you still have to do your best for welfare be that resorting to the vet at a call out fee that you will never see back or reaching for the humane killer. That’s the lowest point of the job, other than that it’s about good management and building up a feel for the job.
Seriously though go for it if you want to. You only live once.
 

AHDB winding down horticulture and potatoes operations as Ministerial decision awaited

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AHDB has announced yesterday it is winding down significant activities on behalf of the horticulture and potatoes sectors.

While still awaiting a decision on the future by Ministers in England, Scotland and Wales, AHDB wants to reassure levy payers their views have been heard following recent ballots in the two sectors.

AHDB is now stopping programmes of work that could be restarted in the future by grower associations, individual growers or the supply chain. This work includes for example, export market access and promotional international trade event work, consumer marketing campaigns and market pricing and insight information. AHDB will continue to deliver limited emergency work on pests and diseases, including the Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMU)’s and some...
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