College education is an asset to the job, but is not mandatory. Knowing a second language is desirable if the herdsman works with others from foreign countries.
A herdsman must be responsible, detail-oriented and flexible, and must be on hand for the birth of calves, says the Careers with Animals site. Most employers require that a herdsman have five or more years experience in the cattle industry, including experience in animal health, and at least five years experience as a supervisor. He must be confident in making decisions and know how to keep the herd healthy, administer drugs and fill milk quotas. He must be a skilled oral and written communicator and possess a genuine desire to grow his employer's cattle business, according to Hansen AGRI-Placement on the AG Careers website.
Responsibilities include milking, feeding and watering the cattle twice a day; daily upkeep of any automated machinery involved in their care; breeding cattle; administering shots; handling routine maintenance around the work area (though his employer may appoint others for this task so the herdsman can concentrate on the herd); and supervising others, not only on his staff, but also other farm workers as needed. He also assists veterinarians when they examine the herd, knows how to treat sick cows and desires to reduce the cattle's mortality rate, according to Hansen AGRI-Placement.
Farm clothing is the attire of a herdsman. Because of the long hours (usually weekends in addition to weekdays), his employer often provides rent-free on-site housing, according to the Care with Animals site. Benefits can include health and dental insurance, 401(K), paid vacations and bonuses, depending on the employer.
A herdsman's salary can vary greatly, and often is tied to the results of the herd. However, as of spring 2010, salaries start at about $25,000 and can exceed $35,000 per year, depending on experience, responsibilities and number of cattle.