Contract Finishers are responsible for looking after livestock owned by other farmers and businesses. A farmer that does not have the time, staff, buildings or land to ‘finish’ all the livestock for slaughter, will ask a Contract Finisher to carry out this last stage.
The benefits of contract finishing are considerable. It enables farmers to expand without investing in further buildings or land, whilst the Contract Finishers can use their buildings or land to create an income.
The farmer maintains ownership of the livestock. A Contract Finisher has responsibility for health, welfare and the performance of the livestock. The Contract Finisher will be paid to ensure that the livestock meet growth targets and are in good health.
The livestock are moved through various stages as they grow, from ‘weaning’ to ‘growing’ and finally to ‘finishing’. At the end of the contract, the livestock will be the correct fatness and weight to be sold directly to the abattoir.
Depending on the number of livestock, a Contract Finisher may also have some responsibility for staff, such as Stockperson and Farm Workers.
On some smaller scale units, a Contract Finisher may carry out both the management and everyday tasks, and contract finishing animals may form just part of the overall business.
A Contract Finisher generally would work as least 39 hours per week and many Contract Finishers will be self employed. Early mornings, evenings and weekend work can be necessary.
On all but the very large farms, a Contract Finisher would be a-hands-on role and will be required to cover for their Stockman or Farm Worker if necessary.
The working conditions will depend on the farm. In order for livestock to reach the correct fatness and weight the majority are finished indoors in sheds or sometimes open air pens, as opposed to outdoors in fields.
Salaries vary with experience, qualifications and between companies, but here's a guide to what you can expect.
Most Contract Finishers are former farmers with expertise in working with livestock specifically and have access to facilities required to provide a contract finishing service.
On a farm someone could progress to this role from working as an Assistant Unit Manager, Section Head or Unit Manager, and gain experience in livestock management, the financial impacts of decision making and if necessary managing staff.
A Contract Finisher does not need any particular qualifications to enter the job, but substantial experience with livestock and relevant training would be preferable.
Livestock are expensive and their health and welfare and productivity is a big responsibility. Farmers and businesses will depend on the Contract Finisher being successful.
What experienced workers can do
- Promote good standards of health and safety
- Obtain contracts to supply land-based products or services
- Control and restrain livestock using specified methods
- Promote and maintain the health and well-being of livestock
- Monitor and evaluate livestock intake of feed and water
- Management of farm waste
- Organisation of sales and purchases
- Feed storage, milling and mixing
- Tagging correctly.
Personal qualities you should have
- Work on own initiative
- Work in a team or with others
- Able to solve problems
- Business skills.
Contract Finishers may move into other work such as technical sales, consultancy and teaching, or work as an Agricultural Adviser.
It may also be possible to work with private companies, consultancies and co-operatives that offer farm management services.
All agricultural workers need to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in their sector.
For those wishing to progress into farm management, a degree in subjects such as agriculture and animal or farm management may also be an option.
There may also be chances to work abroad.