Selina cracks egg-cellent Poultry career with Cobb Vantress

Team work makes the dream work for Selina, a problem solving Senior Poultry Technician at Cobb Vantress, a global livestock business producing an impressive 10% of the world’s chicken protein, right on our back doorstep.

Cobb Vantress NZ is nestled in beautiful farmland in the North Waikato, Cobb is always on the lookout for people keen to start as Farmhands and, for those who have what it takes, work their way up to become Technicians, Team Leads or Managers.

The FutureForce® team sat down with Selina for more insight on her role within the business…

Selina Barlow
Senior Poultry Technician

Top Career Tip

“Be open minded and just be yourself!”

A chat with Selina about her role

Selina Barlow
Senior Poultry Technician
What do you do?
I’m running a team at the moment and we complete different tasks throughout the day. We mainly collect eggs, but we also look after the birds. We’ve got to make sure we feed our birds, they have water available to them and we also have to manage their weight. It’s important to make sure we’re doing everything correctly.

Once we get to the sheds there are bio-security rules we must follow to make sure the birds stay safe and healthy. So we shower through for five minutes to make sure we are not introducing anything into their enivonment that could harm them. Then I run through with my team what we will be doing that day and what the plans are… then we go straight into work!

What does a day at work look like for you?
Firstly we will do our floor walks. This is very important and where we check on the birds. At the moment, the birds eat in the morning so – first things first – we have to check that there is feed available for them and also that there’s water. We also must ensure that their environment is not wet, it has to be dry and warm. So that’s what we do first thing in the morning. Check on the birds, and check that everything is working.

At certain times of the day we do belt runs to collect eggs. Once we have finished with the belt run, we would put and send those eggs into a chiller. Every shed on the farm has a chiller to keep our eggs nice and cool. If the eggs are left out in the warmth, they start growing so it’s better to keep them in a cool environment. Our shift is from at the moment we start at 7:15am and we finish at 4:00pm, with a morning break and a lunch break in between.

Tell us about yourself
So I grew up in Nelson and gradually moved up to Waikato to study hospitality, travelling and tourism. I also worked overseas for 12 months at Disney, but COVID just came right in! The good thing was it gave me a better idea of a different pathway…. that’s when I decided why not a chicken farm!
What got you interested in this role?
I have a family member who works here and I saw he enjoyed working here so I was like “why not?!” I started as production staff collecting eggs and doing my normal daily tasks, floorwalking. Just my normal stuff everyday, grading my eggs and looking after the birds.

It was great because I had a leader here that I looked up to and the more I learned from her the more I saw of what she was really doing for the company and for the birds. I especially admired the way she cared for the birds and it made me realise I was very passionate about this job, and I wanted to be like that.

What are some highlights of your job?
My highlights about working here at Cobb is my team mates… you got to have a good team because at this job we do everything together and basically you need your team. I love the challenges, that’s my favourite. So if anything breaks down, I’ll be in there and to solve that problem…that’s my favourite.

WATCH: Selina takes us behind the scenes at Cobb Vantress

Tips & Advice

What qualifications do you have?
As part of my career journey I just graduated with NZ Certificate in Primary Industry Skills (Poultry) (Level 2) with strands in Egg Production, Hatching, Rearing, that was great. Level 2 was kind of like an insight about chickens, about feeds… you know anything that can harm a chicken. I will continue on doing a Level 3 Poultry when it comes.

Selina has also completed PowerTrain© – a coaching programme for improved performance in business and personal goals.

What is your advice for someone starting out at Cobb?
If you’re a new person starting out at Cobb, I think be open minded, just be yourself. They are chickens – they’re animals so don’t be scared they won’t get you –  haha! The team is great at looking after new people and we have training in place just to help you get through day-to-day stuff. You honestly don’t need any qualifactions starting at Cobb. You’ve just got to be yourself, have a great attitude, you know be reasonably fit and active. You are going to be caring for birds, so you do need a caring nature because these are very gentle little animals.
What are some challenges you’ve faced?
These sheds can control the temperature in each of the sheds, which house the chickens. They also manage the feed and the water, so you’ve got to be able to understand how they work to make sure the chickens are looked after with excellence. You have to be able to spot potential trouble before it happens!

I’ve learnt a lot about myself at this job, about qualities I didn’t even know I had! Like patience and staying on top of things, you need to have attention to detail. All the little things matter when you’re working in a busy environment, and you need to be on top of stuff. You need to see what the birds need – like if they’re hungry or they’re cold – and you need to be able to just act on it straight awat. You need to think forward and solve problems before they happen – I think that’s why I really enjoy it here.


Cobb is the world’s oldest poultry breeding company, having started life as Cobbs Pedigreed Chicks Inc. on old Pickard Farm in Littleton, Massachusetts, USA in 1916. In 2017 Cobb opened its 40,000sqm New Zealand 19-shed farm complex just outside Huntly.

Approximately 120,000 birds are raised and live at this fully biosecure site with important disease controlled access requiring shower in/shower out facilities for staff, in each shed. More than 2 millions chicks are distributed to the international market each year.

Careers at Cobb
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