What Does an Agriculture - Swine Herdsperson Do?

An Agriculture - Swine Herdsperson (640S) carries out feeding, health and breeding programs on hog farms and may also supervise general farm workers. In this career, you would maintain livestock performance records and perform all hog-producing work including selection, breeding, weaning, feeding and medicating the animals. 

Job Related Skills, Interests and Values

  • reading and interpreting hog documentation, feed sheets, feeding guides, government regulations and nutritionist or veterinarian prescriptions       
  • gaining and putting into practice a good overall knowledge of safety procedures followed around animals, machinery, chemicals, & pesticides
  • ensuring swine health and comfort are maintained by treating swine health problems, monitoring feeding conditions, maintaining the barn, selecting replacement stock and overseeing the breeding program
  • planning and preparing for the finishing of hogs by preparing and maintaining the site, and following finishing procedures
  • performing manure management procedures by removing, storing and spreading manure, while being aware of  and in compliance with biosecurity and environmental issues and regulations
  • managing the nursery stock by handling piglets to and from the nursery, completing nursery documentation and communicating with co-workers to ensure the nursery is maintained with all required feed, medications, tools 
  • performing farrowing procedures effectively, safely and efficiently by:  planning and preparing for farrowing, reading and interpreting farm records to identify goals, requirements, and number of pigs to be weaned 
  • operating and maintaining farm systems, vehicles, equipment and farm machinery

You may find additional information about this trade and applicable standards at the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website – follow this sector link:http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/membership/resources/training-standards

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

To become an apprentice Swine Herdsperson you should  complete Grade 12 education or ministry-approved equivalent with credits in math, science and communication. Students who have not yet completed high school but are 16 years of age and completed Grade 10 can apply to the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and gain work hours towards their apprenticeship. You may also benefit from enroling in an Agricultural Specialist High Skills Major Program. For more information click on the following link:


Swine Herdsperson is a Voluntary certified trade and therefore does not require a Certificate of Apprenticeship. However, completing an apprenticeship will increase your wages and your opportunities. To be successful, you should complete an apprenticeship of 5520 hours of on-the-job training and two 8 week in-school training sessions of 240 hours each. This is the minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades.

Apprenticeship Subject Pathways provides additional information for students/parents/educators:


What’s Your Future as an Agriculture - Swine Herdsperson?

A Swine Herdsperson is employed in the service sector by Swine Farms and Hog Producers. Some herdspersons work for family farms while others work for corporate farming entities. Employment is expected to grow at less than the average rate for all occupations since employment opportunities are linked to the farming economy and the corporatizing of family farms. However, local farming trends show that swine farms are on the rise. Therefore locally a Swine Herdsperson has the opportunity for good, steady employment, combined with a rewarding job and career in animal production. 

After completing your apprenticeship, you may advance to supervisory positions, or open and operate your own farm. As a journeyperson you may:

  • work as a Swine Herdsperson
  • progress to a supervisory position such as Production Manager, Breeding Manager, Farrowing Manager, Breeding Technician, Nursery Stock Manager or Artificial Insemination Manager
  • start your own swine farm
  • work in Ontario's Pork Industry, as a Breeding Technician, Pharmaceutical representative, Genetics Technician, Agricultural Finance representative, Agribusiness Retail Manager or as a Swine Research Technician/ Assistant

Wage Rate

  • Apprentices generally earn less than fully qualified Journeypeople
  • As your skills and expertise increase, so does your wage
  • A fully qualified Swine Herdsperson can earn an average of $15.00/ hour excluding overtime


Ask Yourself: Is Working as an Agriculture - Swine Herdsperson for You?

Do you like working with animals?

Yes      No

Can you work in a confined area, outdoors, in heat, rain or cold, exposed to animal and farm odours?

Yes      No

Are you in good physical condition and enjoy working hard?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy learning about animals and animal care and putting this into practice?

Yes      No

Do you have the physical stamina to be on your feet for long periods of time?

Yes      No

Are you safety conscious?

Yes      No

Are you an organized, self-motivated person who can work independently or as part of a team to get the job done?

Yes      No

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as a Swine Herdsperson may be for you!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Farm Supervisor
  • Nursery Stock Manager
  • Agricultural Service Contractor
  • Dairy Herdsperson
  • Horse Groomer
  • Veterinary Assistant


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