The job of a cowboy is oftentimes fantasized about because of movies and TV, but a cowboy is a very real and very vital part of the ag + western industries. It is easy to think of a cowboy as someone who just rides horseback through a pasture full of livestock. But in reality, a cowboy is so much more than that. A cowboy is someone who tirelessly cares for the livestock and the land they live on while upholding hundreds of years of traditions. Cowboys are essential for animal production and the food system. We’re here to give you the low-down on all the jobs a cowboy does, the skills a cowboy must possess, and how to find cowboy jobs on Of The West!
A Cowboy’s Job Responsibilities
A cowboy has many responsibilities aside from caring for their horses and livestock. Not only do cowboys ensure their livestock are healthy, but they also make sure the land is healthy and can feed the livestock for generations to come. Depending on the time of year depends on the tasks they are focusing on but tasks can include: farming their ground, fixing fences, doctoring livestock, gathering livestock, branding, transporting livestock, fixing and ensuring water sources, and calving their herd.
Skills of a Cowboy
Experienced cowboys hold a plethora of skills that they use daily. These skills include riding, calving, feeding, fixing fences, farming, roping, hauling, loading and unloading livestock, and welding and mechanical skills. They also hold knowledge of animal health, livestock markets, and state and federal policy.
Different Types of Cowboy Jobs
Cowboys don’t just work on ranches, but they can also work for corporations, associations, and event-producing companies. Your most common cowboy job will be a “ranch-based” job that includes caring for livestock, horses, and land. If you work for a corporation, you can work in their feedyards, and on their ranches. Those types of positions will have a corporate structure, with different departments you might have to work with. Event producers need cowboys to help move, care for, and work their stock for different events like any of the NCHA events, rodeos, and sometimes even movies!
Finding a Cowboy Job
Getting hired as a cowboy will depend on your knowledge and experience. If you don’t have much knowledge of the industry or experience working as a cowboy be open to those entry-level positions that will help you build your skillset. Learn from everyone around you and be a sponge! Use this time to learn the ins and outs of a working ranch, cattle and livestock health, day-to-day routines, and the skills that good cowboys possess. Now whether you have experience or not, Of The West just became your best friend. We have cowboy/ranch hand/pen rider jobs on the site often, some even being entry-level. Cowboys are needed all around the country. That means there’s a great chance that you can find a job as a cowboy!
Events to Attend
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Stockmanship & Stewardship
Texas Christian University Ranch Management Program