In Australia, a stockman is a person who looks after livestock on large properties known as stations. A stockman is responsible for the care of livestock, the treatment of their illnesses and injuries. This includes feeding, watering, mustering (rounding up), droving, branding, vaccinating livestock and dealing with their predators.
Mustering is done with horses or all-terrain vehicles, and some large cattle stations even use helicopters or light aircraft to assist. Cattle mustering in the Outback often necessitates day camping in isolated areas and sleeping in a swag (bedroll) on the ground with limited food choices. In these areas, the days in the saddle are often very long, as the cattle have to be mustered and then driven to yards or a paddock where they can be held.
Due to the high value of livestock, early stockmen were specially selected, highly regarded individuals. Stockmen need to handle livestock with confidence and patience, make accurate observations about them and enjoy working outdoors.
Young men, called jackaroos, and women, called jillaroos, work on a sheep or cattle station to gain practical experience in the skills needed to become an owner, overseer or manager of a station. The traditional method for training young men and women for practical occupations has been the apprenticeship, but this is beginning to be replaced by programs of formal schooling.
Stockmen traditionally ride horses, use working dogs and a stock whip for stock work and mustering. The most common horse used by stockmen is the American Quarter Horse. It is valued for its even temperament, versatility and cow sense.
The traditional attire of a stockman is a felt Akubra hat; a double flapped, two pocket cotton shirt; a plaited kangaroo skin belt, carrying a stockman’s pocket knife in a pouch; light colored, stockman cut, moleskin trousers with brown elastic side boots. Specially designed and cut for riding, oilskin coats are used during wet weather. The horse typically wears a ringhead bridle, a saddle cloth, a leather Australian stock saddle, which may be equipped with a breastplate in steep country, a saddlebag and quart-pot, a tin pot used for cooking and as a drinking cup.
A number of equestrian sports are particularly associated with stockmen. These include campdrafting, team penning, tentpegging and polocrosse, as well as working dog trials. The sports are played in local and state competitions and are often a feature of agricultural shows.