Cobb Vantress NZ is a global poultry livestock business producing an impressive 10% of the world’s chicken protein, right on our back doorstep.
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.
Farmhand roles at Cobb involve working in a hatchery and rearing farms, where animal welfare and biosecurity are top priority.
Former Te Kauwhata College student Phoenix Popata (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu) is a Cobb farmhand. He scored his first ever job there two years ago because he knew the manager of the hatchery who encouraged him to apply for a job.
Top Career Tip
“Don’t be scared when you first start at work. Your boss is a person, just like you. Be open to try new things, even if you don’t know anything about them. Always remember… if you do the mahi, you get the treats!”
A chat with Phoenix about his role
What do you like about working at Cobb Vantress?
This was my first ever job and I was a bit scared at first, but then Cobb treated me like whānau and I knew I would be okay. That’s what I love about it here… we’re all a big family.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I arrive at 8am and we always need to shower and change clothes on site. It’s the same when we leave at the end of the day. This is very important for the safety of the birds and for biosecurity reasons. For this reason, we’re also not allowed to take any of our personal belongings over the line, including cell phones! Basically, we all need to ensure our chickens are looked after well.
What have you learnt on the job?
A lot of things. Mainly how everything runs, all the operations side of things. I didn’t know anything about chickens at all when I started, but they taught me everything.
What sort of person makes a good Cobb Farmhand?
You don’t need any experience, but you do need to turn up, to turn up on time and to work hard. We all have our part to play. You also shouldn’t be scared of chickens!
What’s do you find challenging about your job?
It’s hard when we’re low on staff. We’re a team, so if people don’t turn up the rest of us need to put in extra effort to get the job done. We all need to pitch in and make sure all the work is done. It’s important to be reliable so you don’t let the team down. That’s the thing with chickens too – they need to be cared for and the jobs need to be completed, no matter what.
What do you love about your work?
I like that it’s very hands on. It’s good, physical work. Working with chickens is not boring and every day is different. I like the people and I like the chickens… it’s a good environment for me. It’s also satisfying to turn up, get my job done and go home again.
What school subjects are important for your work?
There is lots of measuring and weighing, so it’s good to have at least a basic maths knowledge. You don’t want to be overfeeding the birds!
On the job
Every day Phoenix could be doing tasks such as:
- Daily welfare walks
- Water intake checks and recording
- Ensuring feed rates are correct
- Maintaining temperature set points
- Feed clean up – checks and recording
- Collecting floor eggs
- Recording egg numbers
- Egg weighing and recording
- Egg grading
- Data recording and sending
- Shed and equipment set up
- Checking and maintaining rodent bait stations
Farmhand roles at Cobb involve working in the hatcher, rearing and breeder groups, where animal welfare and biosecurity are top priority. Other key aspects of the job include…
- Health & Safety
- Bird handling
- Corralling birds
- Feeding, watering and weighing
- Bird behaviour
- Pest control
A good Cobb Vantress Farmhand does not need any formal qualifications, but they do need to be:
» Committed to adhering to quality, safety, biosecurity and work standards
» Able to learn quickly and apply learning to the job
» Able to effectively communicate and convey correct information
» Good at time management
» Punctual with high work attendance
» A good team player
» Able to read, write and do maths to a reasonable standard
» Physically capable (able to lift 20kg and to stand for long periods)
» Able to handle day-to-day work pressure calmly
» Willing, hard-working, reliable and flexible
Qualifications and requirements:
» Restricted driver’s licence is preferred
» NCEA Level 2 Literacy and Numeracy Capable
» For more senior roles, Primary Industry Skills (Poultry) Level 2 & 3
» No contact with live birds or pigs outside of work (for biosecurity reasons)