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Essential Competencies

Introduction: Generally, the Animal Caretaker competencies are only a portion of the requirements assigned in a standard position description. Often the duties of Animal Caretaker are combined with a Trail Worker position, a Animal Packer, a Farrier, etc. to include all responsibilities. In this competency we have included Farrier and Animal Packer as part of the developmental and full performance level as an option available to the animal caretaker competencies.


Description: At the entry level, incumbent works according to specific schedules and work methods with direct supervision. Work is periodically inspected by supervisor to ensure schedules and work practices are followed.

I.Animal Care

A.Recognizes, and identifies individual animals by natural markings such as color, habits, tattoos, sex, etc.

B.Familiar with, and follows established schedules to administer routine feed and water requirements.

C.Catch, handle and control animals.

D.Grooms livestock.

E.Lift and carry loads up to 70 pounds.

F.Equips animals with proper gear for specific task (i.e. pack saddle, harnesses, plows, riding saddles, etc.)

G.Exercises, rides, and assist in the training livestock for specific purposes (i.e. riding, plowing, pulling wagon, packing, etc.)

II. Custodial Maintenance

A.Use common hand tools to keep livestock area clean and sanitary.

B.Use of wheelbarrows for disposing of animal waste.

C.Application of chemicals for the purpose of disinfecting, deodorizing, reducing pest insects, and controlling infectious diseases, etc.

D.Follows oral directions from supervisor and/or written manufacturers directions concerning the safety, mixing and application of chemicals.

E.Performs minor stable and coral maintenance.

III. Veterinarian Services

A.Recognize obvious signs of abnormal behavior in livestock.

B.Hold/contain docile yet agile animals for medical treatment.

C.Administers minor first aid treatments such as administering/applying oral and surface medications according to specific direction from supervisor or veterinarian for minor injuries or wounds, and routine care.

IV. Equipment Operation (Optional)

A.Periodically operates trucks up to 1 ton, pulling a two capacity horse trailer.

B.Do routine or daily preventative maintenance.

C.Maintains class C State vehicle operators permit

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Ability to read and follow simple signs and directions.

Ability to follow specific schedules and routines.

Ability to lift and carry weights up to 70 pounds (i.e. hay, feed, tack, building materials, etc.).

Ability to handle and ride a horse or mule safely, and according to common practices.

Knowledge of normal feed and liquid requirements of livestock.

Ability to recognize obvious signs of abnormal behavior in animals such as loss of appetite, excessive hair loss, limping, etc.

Knowledge of minor veterinarian first aid and ability to apply salves and antiseptics, and dress or bandage injured area, etc.

Ability to operate standard and automatic transmission, gas or diesel power vehicles up to one ton, and maintain class C state drivers permit.

Knowledge of traditional livestock hauling methods in order to haul livestock in a manner so not to injure animals, driver or passengers.

Working knowledge of common hand tools such as hammer, shovel, rake, wheelbarrow, etc.


Description: To advance to the developmental level, the incumbent must possess all the competencies at the entry level, plus exhibit greater skill and knowledge in handling and caring for the animals. The work at this level is checked for adherence to

general animal care procedures, and to see that any specific instructions are followed. The incumbent has greater freedom to make independent decisions.

I.Animal Care

A.Determine type, quantity, and frequency of feeds and liquids required.

B.Handle and restrain hard to control animals.

C.Make minor repairs to corrals, gates, water through, etc. which may involve spot welding, use of oxygen/acetylene torch, and/or use of common carpentry skills.

D.Exercises, rides and trains livestock for specific purposes.

II. Veterinarian Services

A.Observe animals' appearance and activity for common signs of illness, disease, discontent, and general physical condition.

B.Performs veterinarian first aid as result of cuts, bruises, punctures, etc.

C.Injects into muscle, medications prescribed by a veterinarian.

D.Establishes time schedules, and performs routine oral worming.

E.Controls and restrains hard to control animals for Veterinarian services.

III. Equipment Operation (Optional)

A.Operates bobcat or small front end loader to remove and transport animal waste to keep stock area sanitary.
B.Transport horses and equipment utilizing up to a 1 ton truck, and 4 horse capacity trailer.

IV. Animal Packer (Optional)

Must possess same competencies as the animal caretaker in the handling and care of stock, and farrier competencies plus the following competencies:

A. Animal Handling
1.Properly rig horse/mule with appropriate equipment (i.e. pack saddle, bridle/halter, blankets, riding saddle, lead ropes, etc.) required to safely pack materials, supplies and equipment.
2.Properly pack, secure, and equalize weight of loads to prevent undue stress or injury to pack animals.
3.Ride horse or mule safely while leading a pack string (5 animals or less) down established trails over level to rugged mountainous terrain.
4.Familiar with safety procedures required in case of accident and/or loss of animal or supplies, and be prepared to respond to situation.
5.Re-set shoe on pack and riding horses and mules.
6.Make minor repairs to tack and pack equipment.

V. Animal Farrier (Optional)

This competency may be separate or include with the packer and/or animal caretaker competencies.

A. Shoeing

1.Maintain livestock inventories, and inventory levels of farrier supplies such as nails, shoes, etc.
2.Performs the cold shoeing of horses and mules.
3.Performs corrective shoeing as required to ensure horses and mules travel in a safe and efficient manner.
4.Maintains records of horses shod, and schedules horses shod according to that schedule.
5.Recognizes and treats common foot problems such as thrust, sore feet, etc.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Ability to lift and carry weights up to 100 pounds.

Working knowledge of feed and liquid requirements, including the variety of feeds and feed supplements available.

Knowledge of proper methods required to restrain animals to prevent injury to self or animal.

Practical knowledge of structural maintenance of corrals, fences, barns, and pastures including arc and acetylene welding, fence wire stretching, etc.

Knowledge of vehicle operations on vehicles up to one ton, and livestock hauling methods.

Knowledge of common medications, vaccines, wormers, wound dressings, etc. used in treating animals for injuries, and for repetitive treatments used for prevention of illnesses.

Ability to prepare schedules and standards for animal care.


Knowledge of knots used in packing operations (i.e. barrel, single and double diamond, squaw hitch, etc.).

Knowledge and skill to perform leather work in the repair of harnesses, saddles, pack saddles, halters, bridles, etc. as well as canvas and pack bags.

Working knowledge and skill in farrier techniques and foot care, including cold shoeing horses for use in mountainous terrain.


Description: At full performance level, incumbent must have the entry and developmental competencies plus exhibit expertise in the field of animal care. The incumbent will work independently and possibly be designated to train or lead lower graded workers.

I. Animal Handling

A.Instruct other workers in animal control and handling.

B.Instruct other workers in riding and training skills.

C.Instruct others in animal nutrition and care.

II. Custodial Maintenance

A.Easily identifies and prescribes treatment of corral areas infected with pest or disease.

B.Instructs other workers on how to maintain clean and sanitary facilities.

III. Veterinarian Services

A.Injects prescription and non-prescription medications into veins and muscles.

B.Sutures cuts and wounds in absence of veterinarian.

C.Recognize uncommon diseases and illnesses in animals, and can respond in a timely manner to prevent contagious outbreaks, death or disability of animals.

D.Instructs others in basic veterinarian medicine and disease prevention.

IV. Equipment Operation (Optional)

A.Operate trucks up to 54,000 GVW, 13 speed, pulling semi-trailers.

B.Check air brakes on semi-trucks and trailers for proper operation.

V. Animal Packer (Optional)

A.Safely secure and pack large, bulky tools, equipment, and material such as generators, timbers, stoves, pipe, lumber, etc.
B.Trains new pack animals, and instructs others in packing operations.

C.Makes major repairs and modifications to packing equipment.

VI. Animal Farrier (Optional)

A.Instruct other employees in cold and hot shoeing, and corrective shoeing.

B.Perform master/professional level hot and cold shoeing, and corrective shoeing.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Ability to instruct in animal care, nutrition, and maintenance.

Knowledge of pest/insects, diseases, transmission of diseases, and methods of treatment to contain such diseases and pest/insects as related to livestock.

Working knowledge and skill in administering various types and quantities of veterinarian medications. Skill level would be that of a professional veterinarian aid.

Knowledge of tools and materials necessary to suture a wound, and ability to suture cuts and wounds in the absence of veterinarian.


Maintain a CDL with proper endorsement required of position.

Knowledge and skill level of a professional livestock handler/trainer.

Knowledge and skill in advanced methods of leather repair to tack including pack saddles, riding saddles, harnesses, bridles, etc.

Required certification from accredited farrier school.

National Park Service
Training and Development Division
Essential Competencies

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