Catcher inside a chicken shed.

Catcher (poultry)

Catcher (poultry)

A catcher is in charge of catching, handling, and loading poultry safely and quickly, ready for transport.
Also known as poultry catcher, chicken catcher or poultry handler.

This profile highlights the skills and knowledge associated with the role. However, jobs will have varying responsibilities depending on level of the role and the size or type of the business.

Catcher inside a chicken shed.

The British poultry industry operates at high levels of animal welfare and biosecurity. There are lots of opportunities in the poultry industry for catchers. This could include working with breeding birds, laying birds that produce eggs, or birds bred for meat. 

As a catcher, you’ll catch and handle birds safely so they can be moved calmly. You’ll be trained to safely catch and handle birds to make sure they’re not harmed or stressed and without injuring yourself. 

Poultry farm businesses work to very high standards in welfare, ​​biosecurity, and health and safety. This helps prevent diseases spreading among the birds.  

You’ll usually work as part of a catching team and report to a team leader, supervisor, or manager. 

Depending on the size of the business, working hours can vary. Shifts/night work are common for catchers, and you may need to work at the weekend. 

You may need your own transport to get to work.  

As a catcher, your responsibilities might include: 

  • Catching and handling birds to high welfare standards 
  • Helping to prepare birds for transport 
  • Making sure birds are ​​picked up and loaded correctly and safely 
  • Following company rules for good levels of biosecurity 
  • Following and meeting health and safety standards 
  • Making sure personal protective equipment is kept clean and in good condition 
  • Checking and reporting any health and welfare issues to your supervisor 
  • Giving medications and vaccinations safely and effectively once appropriately trained/under supervision 
  • Operating machinery and equipment safely 
  • Meeting high environmental standards 
  • Keeping records if needed​​  

To work as a catcher, you should:

  • Have excellent communication skills  
  • Enjoy working in a team  
  • Be keen to learn and develop skills 
  • Be able to work in a calm, confident, and caring way 
  • Be able to spot and report issues 
  • Be able to follow instructions while also using your initiative 

To become a catcher, you do not necessarily need a formal qualification. However, you’ll need to be trained to a minimum standard set by the British Poultry Training Initiative

Your employer will provide the training, which should cover biosecurity, health and safety, using personal protective equipment, and other areas of the role.

You can also choose to study further to understand the agri-food industry better. Take a look at the Qualifications and Training Section below. 

There are many jobs and opportunities to progress in the UK poultry industry. As a catcher, you’ll need to be diligent and eager to learn.  

Whatever route you choose, it’s important you’re comfortable working closely with and handling poultry.  

You can also gain experience by volunteering on a farm or smallholding.  

If you live in a city or urban area, you could volunteer on a local city farm, community garden, or allotment. You can find some of these in your area on the Social Farms and Gardens website

Reading farming newspapers, magazines, and websites will also develop your knowledge and understanding. 

As a catcher, you’ll have the following competencies in relation to catching and handling birds safely for transport.  

You will:  

  • Implement the farm’s biosecurity and hygiene rules to reduce the risk of disease 
  • Implement the farm’s welfare and environmental rules 
  • Work to the relevant health and safety standards  
  • Work as part of a successful team 
  • Work to meet the farm’s production targets 
  • Engage in regular continuing professional development training so you can use the necessary technology, machinery, and equipment 

Salaries are in the region of £17,000 to £23,000, depending on experience and location, or £9.50 to £12 per hour for casual work. 

There are opportunities for catchers to work as part of a large team on the poultry farm or with an independent catching team where you can work on different farms. 

With more experience and training, you could become a team leader, poultry technician, or farm manager (poultry).

Courses which can help you on this career path include:

Level 1 Diploma Land-based Studies Agriculture  

British Poultry Training 

TIAH Essential Skills

Our online Essential Skills modules can help you develop your skills and knowledge in a range of areas and are a great addition to your CV.

Anyone considering working as a catcher would find our Animal Health and WelfareBiosecurity, and Foundations in Farm Safety courses helpful.

You can find out more about the diverse range of roles in the poultry sector by listening to Ben Eagle's Meet the Farmers podcast, episode 150.

Return to our job profiles page for more exciting roles in farming and growing.