Women draft the way forward in saleyards

How saleyards are launching new careers

Beef
Jane Laurie and Rachael Unger, at Kempsey saleyards, are among the growing number of women who are working in saleyards across NSW. Photo: Samantha Townsend

Jane Laurie and Rachael Unger, at Kempsey saleyards, are among the growing number of women who are working in saleyards across NSW. Photo: Samantha Townsend

Aa

There are a growing number of women who are working in the saleyards from across the state doing everything from drafting to scanning animals.

Aa

The cattle are bellowing and dust swirls as the sun fades - and there in the middle of it all is Rachael Unger and Jane Laurie

The pair, respectively 18 and 17 years old, are among a growing number of women who are working in the saleyards from across the state doing everything from drafting to scanning animals.

Ever since Rachael started going to the saleyards as a youngster with her mother Shiralee at Forbes, she had always wanted to be a stock and station agent.

"I grew up on a beef fattening operation at Parkes and whenever we would go to the sales I just loved the atmosphere and knew it was what I wanted to do for a job," Rachael said.

She studied a certificate three in stock horse breeding and training as well as certificate four and diploma of agriculture at Tocal College before being offering a stock and station agent traineeship at Taree.

But she said that had been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So in the meantime as she waits, Rachael is getting experience with Kempsey Stock and Land working the saleyards.

"I want to be able to help farmers get the best returns for their animals and land and this is a great way to do that," Rachael said.

Meanwhile for Jane, who has been working in Kempsey saleyards for nearly two months, she wants to become a high school agriculture teacher and wanted the experience to help with her university degree.

Australian Livestock and Property Agents chief executive Peter Baldwin said there had been a shift in agriculture in the past decade, which had flowed into the saleyards.

"Yes, there are more and more women working in the saleyards due to an attitude shift in society," Mr Baldwin said.

"I started working in the saleyards in 1984 and if I look back 30 years it's so refreshing to see the change today."

Mr Baldwin added that employment was based on recognition of talent not gender, which had boosted the numbers.

At the forefront of this change is Kempsey Stock and Station Agent Ian Argue who now employs eight women of which five work hands-on with cattle in the saleyards.

"Many have grown up on farms or are studying agriculture and have the experience so we recognise that expertise," Mr Argue said.

"Some start with us to get the hands-on cattle experience before going onto employment in other agricultural fields."

Mr Argue said one of his previous staff had gained employment at Rangers Valley feedlot.

"So you could say it's like a stepping stone to launch their career," he said.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by