ALFA: Young women and their lotfeeding careers

ALFA: Young women and their lotfeeding careers


Meet some of the young women growing their careers in lotfeeding.

Each year the Australian Lotfeeders' Association (ALFA) runs the Margin and People Management program for employees in the lotfeeding industry.


Meet some of the 2019 participants.

Rebecca O'Reilly, livestock manager, Goonoo Feedlot

Goonoo Feedlot livestock manager Rebecca O'Reilly is passionate about self development and growing her career in lotfeeding.

Goonoo Feedlot livestock manager Rebecca O'Reilly is passionate about self development and growing her career in lotfeeding.

REBECCA O'Reilly grew up on a small property at Kyogle with not much knowledge about lotfeeding, but after almost four years working at AA Co's Goonoo Feedlot she's learnt a lot about the grain-fed beef industry and the career opportunities available.

"I've always been into horses and cattle, growing up campdrafting, and I thought the job was a good opportunity to work for a highly recognised, large company that offered staff training and development to enable me to carve out a career in agriculture," Miss O'Reilly said.

Before Goonoo, she'd worked for the Acton family as Graeme Acton's strapper, working with the horses at Paradise Lagoons and mustering on Queensland stations.

"I'd gone to Longreach Ag College to get my Certificate III in Equine, under John Arnold for six months, and the plan was to go north and I got the job, thinking I'd end up at one of the northern properties, but I ended up working at the stud at Paradise.

"My first introduction to lotfeeding was feeding the weaners that were brought down to Paradise from Barkly Downs and Millungera Station."

Her current role is livestock manager at Goonoo, handling a crew of 11, and managing intakes and dispatch of cattle in the feedlot and backgrounding operation.

The 24-year-old has had the opportunity to participate in a range of courses since beginning her career as a penrider.

She's completed a beef assessment course at Tocal College, and learned more about leadership with a management capability session run by Jill Rigney from The Right Mind.

"That sparked a passion in me to become the best leader and role model I can be," Miss O'Reilly said.

"I've done the Women and Leadership Australia course, and got a scholarship after my mentor Sara Gruber encouraged me to apply for this role and the scholarship.

"I'm really interested in self development so I appreciate AA Co giving me this opportunity with the MPM program, to learn as much as I can to further my career in the industry.

"My manager Jamie Raven is a past participant and recommended the MPM program for me."

Megan Bayles, livestock manager, AA Co Aronui feedlot

Megan Bayles has worked in a range of positions in the beef industry, working her way up to livestock manager at Aronui feedlot.

Megan Bayles has worked in a range of positions in the beef industry, working her way up to livestock manager at Aronui feedlot.

MEGAN Bayles has been around lotfeeding and the beef industry her whole life, being the fifth generation of her family working in agriculture.

Miss Bayles is the livestock manager for AA Co's Aronui feedlot, where she's worked since the end of 2015.

"Dad has over 25 years in lotfeeding and when I was younger he worked at Wainui for NAPCO so school holidays were spent there, where I started by counting cattle off trucks and worked my way up over the years to the stock team with him."

The 31-year-old has had a range of jobs in the beef industry, working on large scale properties in the Northern Territory and northern Queensland as well as a backgrounding property in Central Queensland, all while studying her Bachelor of Regional and Rural Business Management with Animal Production.

"University, and especially external study, is not for everyone but it's easier if you're studying something that you enjoy and it makes sense to you," she said.

"To this day, I've never woken up and felt like I have to go to work.

"I have a love for cattle, horses, and people; numbers is just a strong suit of mine."

Having a broader understanding of the beef industry helps in her job.

All up, she spent 12 years in other positions before taking on the livestock manager role, where she's responsible for anywhere from four to 11 staff depending on rosters.

"Feedlot work is intensive, but I get a kick out of it, and it's one of those industries, where, if you want to do well, you've got to put in the hard yards, and if done right the results always speak for themselves, and that's business," Miss Bayles said

"I am mostly office-bound, but I can be doing anything from drafting cattle, organising pen changes, the trucking paper work, consumption and health reports looking into cattle performance, staff management, and working with the mill."

She's been back at work for about a year, after taking nine months' maternity leave following the birth of her daughter Piper in July 2017, which has added another challenge to time management.

"It's pretty hectic. I work long hours, by starting early and getting the crew organised for the day, then leaving to drop her off at daycare, working a full day and then leaving again to pick her up, then do a bit of work when I get home after she goes to sleep to tie up my loose ends for the day and prepare for the next day.

"They're long days with a lot of sacrifices and trade-offs, but I love what I do and it's important to me to still have a career and be the best mum possible.

"I feel that I am a better mum for working, and it's humbling to know that I may be able to help another mum's decision in this industry to return to work a little easier - if she could do it then so can I.

"It is also really important to me to acknowledge my team with this, because without them I could never do my job, they are also a great form of support too, by motivating me to a good job at work for them."

Miss Bayles was nominated for the MPM program by AACo's Amanda Moohen, who oversees the Aronui and Goonoo feedlots, and was a founder of the Women of Lot Feeding network.

"She's a big support for us, and I think I'm at the next stage where I'm looking for another challenge, so I'm looking forward to learning more with the MPM program.

"I'm interested in the finance and commodities, and nutrition, and I'm a big people person.

"I loved the leadership part, studying behaviour types and team building.

"I think it's important to know how to get the most out of your crew, but also how they can get the most out of you as well."

Caela Dye, trainee manager, Smithfield Feedlot

Caela Dye, trainee manager at Smithfi eld Feedlot, is enjoying working in the lotfeeding industry.

Caela Dye, trainee manager at Smithfi eld Feedlot, is enjoying working in the lotfeeding industry.

CAELA Dye is originally from Sydney, but after studying agriculture and spending time working on Northern Territory stations, the beef industry is the perfect fit."

The trainee manager at Smithfield feedlot started in the livestock team last year, learning about the whole operation, from penriding, to the hospital, and induction and dispatch.

At the end of 2018 she moved to the mill, where she's learning to manage feeding regimes and doing bulk calls.

Before joining Smithfield Cattle Company Miss Dye worked on stations in the territory, after completing a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience, with majors and honours in livestock production, at the University of Sydney.

"The degree was very broad, covering everything from nutrition to breeding and production and health and disease, so it's helped coming into the feedlot industry," she said.

"The health, disease and animal welfare side was very useful in the livestock team and now that I'm in the milling team, the nutrition part is helping."

Miss Dye, 24, is originally from Sydney, but said having the challenge of learning everything about agriculture had made the job more interesting.

"It's a whole new world for me, but I was prepared to throw myself into it and learn as much as I can," she said.

"People from the land love the cattle and the industry, and they're prepared to talk to me and educate me about it which is very helpful."

She chose to be part of the MPM program after fellow Smithfield trainee manager, and 2018 Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award finalist, Georgia Birch, competed it last year.

"I think it'll help me as I'm going through the trainee manager positions, making sure I have the skills to manage effectively.

"I think the behavioural studies and staff management will be the most beneficial to me, and the financial and budgeting side will really challenge me as I haven't had any exposure to that part of the business."

As one of the participants with less experience, Miss Dye is also learning from other lotfeeding employees in the MPM program.

"We're all from such different areas, age groups and positions, some just starting in management positions, and some people with a lot of experience, but I think we can all learn from each other," she said.

"That variety of people involved is what makes the course so valuable."

Kate Meadows, leading hand livestock, Rangers Valley

Kate Meadows is one of three leading hands managing about 10 penriders at
Rangers Valley feedlot.

Kate Meadows is one of three leading hands managing about 10 penriders at Rangers Valley feedlot.

KATE Meadows has only been working in lotfeeding for three years, after working in the thoroughbred industry for a decade.

She grew up at Wollombi and studied at Tocal College after school, then went on to break horses and ride trackwork at Rouchel and Scone in the Hunter Valley.

She then took a job at a thoroughbred stud at Armidale, but found there wasn't much room for career progression.

"I learnt about the job and applied, and I think I got it purely based off my horse experience, but I've realised that it's the right industry for me, after years of trying to find a career that I really loved," Miss Meadows said.

"I was never settled anywhere - longevity wasn't a priority.

"This is the longest job I've had, and I can't see myself going anywhere any time soon."

The 27-year-old has worked her way up the ranks, being promoted to livestock leading hand within 12 months.

She's one of three leading hands managing a group of 10 penriders, with the teams alternating between processing, clean outs and animal health.

At the beginning of this year she had the chance to learn more about other aspects of the feedlot, including milling, feeding, bunk calls, feeding out, loader driving, and ordering commodities.

"I love my horses and my cows so I'm always going to be a livestock person, but it's interesting to see what it's like from the other side of the bunk," Miss Meadows said.

"You don't realise how important every part is for the whole operation until you're on that side.

"I think I'm always going to be a stockie at heart, and I'd like to work up the ladder to become a livestock manager, but human resources interests me a lot, thinking outside the box about the way staff are managed in agriculture, why longevity isn't a strong point of the industry, and why people only stay for 12 months."

Having a range of experience levels in this year's MPM program cohort gives Miss Meadows the chance to learn from other participants.

"Some of them are already in those positions that I'm interested in, and so far, the course had been helpful," she said.

"It's given me a different way to communicate with my boss and my staff.

"I've already got people I can look up to, and hard work doesn't go unnoticed at Rangers Valley.

"It's good to learn from others in the group, like Megan Bayles, who's been a livestock manager for a couple of years, has a young child and she's so passionate about her staff and working with them."

The story ALFA: Young women and their lotfeeding careers first appeared on The Land.


From the front page

Sponsored by