Northern Local Land Services (LLS) has launched Ladies in Livestock, a support group which is proving to quench the thirst of women who are hungry for on-farm practical knowledge.
Led by LLS pastoral agronomist Georgie Oakes, a September brainstorming session held at Guyra revealed ladies on the land are good communicators and are not afraid to ask questions, however there is a gap between the confidence to speak up about what they know because of the lack of practical knowledge to support it.
With workshops and information sessions designed for women becoming a common approach to build industry skills, Ms Oakes launched the project because she believes there is a lack of sessions for women dedicated to technical skills only.
Ms Oakes said she has noticed women often do not attend industry field days and therefore this prompted her to ask the question as to why they were not involved.
“I noticed that ladies who did come along to field days didn’t actually ask a lot of questions but then in a morning tea situation they were asking a million questions,” she said.
“In my role as a pastoral agronomist, when I go out on farm I ask women if they want to come along and go out to the paddock – a lot were asking great questions; that’s when I realised women are really hungry for knowledge.”
The program involves a monthly workshop day and so far has covered technical knowledge in agronomy, livestock, biosecurity and animal health.
Each workshop is held on-farm with participating ladies offering up their properties to get hands on experience. Women have gained technical skills in pasture and native pasture identification, bloat treatment, as well as live sheep and cattle assessments.
Women of all ages and previous work-experience are attending the popular sessions.
“We have psychologists, pharmacists, previous agronomists and graphic designers that are returning to the land, this helps the group because they offer a breadth of knowledge across so many topics,” Ms Oakes said.
“It’s an environment where we share information in a positive and non-judgmental space,” she said.
“It’s about giving women the confidence to say yes they do know what they are talking about, so it’s okay to step up and say what they think.”
With the success of the project so far and the demand for more workshops on the rise, Ms Oakes hopes to roll the project out across her territory over the next 12 months, with a future vision to have it across the state.
“If I wanted to dream big, I think the project is something that could go very big,” she said.
Recognising the need to build on-farm confidence and technical skills prompted a Guya Angus producer to join the Ladies in Livestock support group.
Playing an active role on her farm for eleven years, Kirsty White, Bald Blair Angus stud, Guyra, became a participant in the monthly workshop days to meet with fellow women in the district and discuss a range of agricultural topics which are apart of everyday life on the land.
Ms White said women come to land with a large range of experience and resources under their belt but still require technical knowledge to empower their role on the farm.
“The group offers women an opportunity to come together, talk about agriculture and bring their specific skill set to the group for discussion – while learning from each other in a supportive environment,” she said.
“The unique part of farming is you have many roles; you are an agronomist, animal health specialist, accountant and a book-keeper, you need a lot of different things in your skills tool box to be able to those jobs, so the group is really about adding to our local female farmers’ tool box.”
With the group already receiving national support, Ms White is confident additional support groups for women in farming will pop up in the near future.
“I see our group continuing on because it has great momentum and support – everyone is very positive and really enjoying it,” she said. “I can safely say I have never been involved in a group that has provided so much.”