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A job interview for a cow

It is important to find out who is working for whom

In this line of work, offspring are welcome on the job site.

I have heard the statement “My cows need to work for me.” This leads to the somewhat logical question of “If a cow works for me, what should a job interview look like?” and further what answers I should hope to hear. Knowing that cow depreciation and cow herd maintenance are the two biggest costs faced by the cow-calf sector, I think the job description and interview might go something like the following.

Job posting

Full-time career available. No experience needed, however, background check is required. Work is mostly outdoors and physical fitness is a requirement of the position. Room and board and some medical benefits included. Family atmosphere with the opportunity to work with industry-leading genetics. Long-term position available for right applicant.

The interview

What is your name?

123A but you can call me Bessie.

Why are you interested in the industry?

My family has been involved in the beef industry for a long time. In fact, you could say I grew up in the business. My grandmother is still active in a cow herd, and so is my mother. In fact, my great-grandmother just retired last year. I have lots of sisters and half-sisters that work in the industry too. Some are even employed here, which is how I heard about this position.

Interesting. Tell me some more about your family?

My dad comes from a good maternal background and has tested better than average for a lot of traits. We used an ancestry DNA kit and it proved my parentage, but also that I have gotten a lot of good productivity and longevity genes from both sides of the family. In fact, my mom is a Hereford and dad is an Angus, but I think my mixed background has been and continues to be an added strength in my ability to adapt to any situation.

This job can be somewhat physically demanding. How do you feel about physical fitness?

I work hard to keep myself fit. I try to avoid extremes and like to stay at about a three to 3.5 on a five-point condition scale. Also, I like to walk and cover quite a bit of distance on a regular basis. I think I have good bones. Also, as I mentioned, I think my mixed background has given me some tools to adapt to situations that might be more difficult for others that don’t have the same type of background. I think a lot of my background and training is owed to my mother, who raised me in a pretty tough environment. Her training and support have been invaluable. My family has been committed to fitness on both sides for as long as I can remember. I know my sisters are noted for being easy calving.

What is the most valuable thing you learned from your mother?

Clean my plate among other things. It may seem a bit odd, but she also taught me some valuable skills in plant identification and being aware of my surroundings.

So you would say you are the outdoorsy type?

I really enjoy the outdoors. In fact, I would say that I thrive when the weather is somewhat chilly or even wet. I am not too fond of extreme heat but can deal with it if I have to. I like foraging out in the open in any kind of weather, even though I prefer nice spring days and fresh green grass.

How are you with people?

I am good with people. I like to do a lot of things for myself, but don’t get too upset if there are people around.

Can you give me an example?

A good example would be my ability to tell people from a general threat. A lot of it is inherited, but I like to treat my people with respect. As well, I am very self-reliant and can calve on my own given half a chance.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

I would say my love of children is one of my greatest strengths. As for weaknesses, I sometimes get mad when people yell at me.

That’s good to know. Are you looking for a long-term position, or are you more interested in something short term?

I am excited to interview here and my goal if I’m hired is to contribute to the organization for as long as possible. If the position is available, my goal would be to work here for several years and raise quality calves.

Anything else you would like us to know?

I’m a vegan.

I know this may seem a bit fanciful, but the real point is in asking who works for whom? Do your cows work for you and if not why? What does the job description for a cow look like at your house and what should your interview questions be? Do you do any background checks? While we need to treat our employees with respect and give them the tools to do their job, they also need to contribute to the bottom line of the business beyond their pay.

About the author


Sean McGrath is a rancher and consultant from Vermilion, Alta. He can be reached at [email protected] or (780) 853- 9673. For additional information visit



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