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A poultry farm guide to finding and hiring the best labor [+ 3 MUST see tips!]

WorkHorse Hub April 23, 2019
Not all farms are created equal. Your poultry farm has unique needs compared to other types of farms, especially when it comes to finding and hiring the best labor. This diversity is explained through recent data that shows there are 233,770 poultry farms in the United States, and involve not only chicken production, but turkeys, eggs, as well as cold storage.

 

poultrymap

Source: USDA


The right employees can improve the productivity on your poultry farm, and your economic bottom line. Finding the best employees the first time also saves you time and money in the hiring and training process.


Labor needs on a poultry farm

First, let’s start with what you need in an ag worker on a poultry farm. Employee roles and responsibilities can vary depending on the production goals of your poultry farm. It’s important to carefully outline the job duties before you advertise the position. These may include:


  • Animal care: Poultry must have access to food and water at all times.
  • Animal health: Good employees can quickly assess birds for sickness or injury and move them to another location for care.
  • Biosecurity: This is crucial on a poultry farm. Ag workers from other types of farms may not understand the amount of biosecurity needed on a poultry farm. This can be taught, but it’s imperative to hire employees who will remember to use biosecurity practices, and understand the consequences of not having a biosecure poultry farm.
  • Egg skills: Handle with care! Employees that handle eggs must use care to minimize cracks and breaks, and maximize profit.
  • Maintenance: While it may not be a large part of the job description, having an employee who can fix a watering system, or control lighting in a poultry house is helpful for the operation’s efficiency.
  • Animal welfare: It’s estimated that 74% of chickens worldwide are raised on intensive farm situations. At the same time, consumers are questioning farming practices at an increasing rate. Poultry farm employees must understand and uphold the strictest animal welfare standards, and in some cases serve as an advocate for the industry during work and personal time.

Characteristics of a good employee

Here’s the thing, it can be hard to determine who will be a good ag worker, and fit the needs of your farm without digging a bit deeper. Of course, the first thing you will look for is agricultural experience, and relevant coursework or training.


But, what other characteristics does a good employee need, and how do you find out if they have it? Here are a few characteristics that we recommend you look for:

 

  • Focus. In an increasingly digital age, we’re seeing decreased attention spans. However, you need workers who can focus on the job at hand, and complete it in a timely fashion. An interview question that can help you ascertain the ability of a candidate to focus is: Tell me about a time when you had multiple demands and a limited number of hours to complete all of the projects. What did you do?
  • Follow directions. There are some instances where employees can be innovative, and develop new processes for completing a job or a task. However, there are other instances, especially in the case of biosecurity, where a job must be completed in a certain way. You want employees who will remember what they are taught, and follow directions exactly when it’s required. How do you determine if a potential employee can do this? Consider asking them: Can you describe a time when you had to adjust quickly to changes that you had no control of, but had to follow? What was the impact on your role? How did you adjust?
  • Stay Motivated. The best employees are those that finish a task, and then move on to the next project, or ask what’s next to add value to your operation. Motivated employees are essential on a farm, where the to-do list can sometimes feel never-ending. You can help assess employee motivation by asking a potential candidate: When you have extra time available at a job, what do you do to fill it in? What techniques have you learned to make yourself more efficient on the job?
  • Be reliable. We’re taking care of animals. Reliable employees are needed to ensure the chickens receive the best possible care, and we adhere to the animal welfare standards our industry implements. Employees that don’t show up when scheduled can wreak havoc across the entire farm as other workers must fill in and complete additional tasks, sacrificing other projects that should be done. One question you can consider asking potential employees is: What is your definition of a reliable employee?

Review this article for more information on finding the best ag workers for your farm. Job seekers on a site such as WorkHorse Hub are only interested in ag jobs, and can shorten your hiring process, and facilitate finding better employees on the first search.


3 tips for finding and hiring the best labor

It’s easier than you think to find and hire the best labor for your poultry farm. Here are three tips that you can implement on your next search.


  1. Write a descriptive and accurate job ad. The more you know about the position, and write in the job ad, the easier it will be for ideal candidates to find and apply for your job. Clarity and focus in job ads help weed out employees who aren’t the right fit. Review our tips for writing a job ad for more advice.
  2. Screen applicants, and interview wisely. Competition is fierce for the best employees. Knowing that potential ag workers have a lot of options means that you need to screen applicants, and interview wisely. The candidates you interview probably have a couple of other interviews scheduled. Or, if you hire them and they aren’t the right fit for your job, they can easily find another position. In the interview, ask why the candidate wants to work on your poultry farm, and assess their focus, motivation, and reliability to avoid hiring the wrong person. Use a job search site like WorkHorse Hub to make sure your job ad is in front of the right potential employees, and let the site do some of the applicant screening for you.
  3. Make it a win-win situation. When you finally find the ideal candidate, it’s crucial that they accept your job offer. What can you do to make your job more appealing than the other offers the candidate may have? Understand the motivations of employees, and their need to add and have value in the workplace. It’s not all about compensation, the ability to grow and have an individualized job is also important, and can make your job more appealing than other offers that they have.

In essence, the search for poultry farm labor can be simplified through preparation and diligence in the hiring process. Good ag workers are eager to help your farm grow and thrive. Finding them doesn’t need to be a case of the needle in a haystack. So go ahead and start your search with confidence. Farm on!

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