WHILE Australia’s lotfeeding industry is growing rapidly, the age profile of its staff appears to be heading in a different direction – with more young people, particularly women, working in feedlots.
Most, if not all of the yards profiled in Beef Central’s Top 25 lotfeeders feature had a young staff age profile, and many reported 40-50pc of their workforce being women.
Many of the feedlots had young managers too – with Smithfield’s two managers, James Guest and Kailen Hodgson aged 31 and 27 respectively, Wainui manager Jeremy Sloss aged 32, Lemontree’s Alexandra McCallum is 29 and Harvest Road’s Amanda Moohen is a 14-year ‘veteran’ of the feedlot industry, at only 38 years of age. Many more also have young milling and livestock team managers.
TFI Feedlot general manager Tom Green at 35, now considers himself one of the ‘old brigade’, with many in his yard aged 18-25.
“I felt like I was one of the younger group, up until the last couple of years. But these businesses are getting bigger and bolder, and need good young people with lots of energy,” he said.
“It’s amazing – I look through our teams, with many 18–22-year-olds looking after hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assets and cattle and doing a great job.”
A number of the companies profiled in Beef Central’s Top 25 had university graduate programs and targeted programs aiming to help operations staff move through to management positions.
Australian Lot Feeders Association president Barb Madden said the industry growth has required a more diverse range of skills, which has leant itself to a younger workforce.
“Caring for livestock is the obvious one however skills such as accounting, science and innovation, robotics, engineering, commodities, logistics, administration and people and culture are all highly valued and offer young people exciting opportunities for those wanting to get involved,” Ms Madden said.
Ms Madden’s family company Smithfield was eighth in the Top 25 Lotfeeders list and it attributed a large part of the company’s technological advancement and improved data collection to the young age profile of its staff.
High demand for women
Some yards profiled by Beef Central said they generally targeted women for pen-riding positions. Ms Madden said pen-riding was well suited to women.
“Penriding, a critical role in the feedlot, incorporates working with, and caring for, horses and this is an avenue where we have seen women dominate and excel,” she said.
“There aren’t too many jobs where someone can combine their love of horses and caring after animals every day; and I think that is highly attractive. More and more we are seeing women take up operational, management and leadership roles within feedlot operations and this is encouraging.”
Investment needed to people in the industry
Like most employers in the past two years, the lotfeeding industry has been struggling to attract and retain staff – with many moving between companies and some struggling to fill key positions. Beef Central understands the situation has improved this year.
Going forward, Ms Madden said it was import for governments to invest in regional areas so lotfeeders can improve the value proposition for staff and have more sustainable businesses.
“It’s important to acknowledge that prospective employees don’t just move to a region for the salary, job opportunity or career progression,” she said.
“Agricultural businesses can offer employees secure long term employment, a sense of teamwork and community, however regional investment in services is also critical.
“Access to services such as health care, childcare, schooling, good telecommunications are all aspects that people weigh up when committing to a career in the country and we need that ongoing investment from all levels of government to help ensure regional communities grow and prosper.”
Click here to return to Top 25 Lotfeeders table.
Click here to access all Top 25 Lotfeeders articles, as they appear in coming weeks
Feature proudly presented by Zoetis Australia and its products, BOVI-SHIELD MH-ONE, RHINOGARD and SYNOVEX
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