Technology and Professional Development

In a world where technology is advancing at a rapid rate, we find ourselves left behind in professional development.

By RaeLea Foley

In agriculture, we have never-ending access to scientific information but not development and training. As someone with first-hand experience up my sleeve, I feel I can speak on this topic with not only passion but also facts. Feedlots across Australia, and likely internationally, need more on the job training workshops. Australia’s largest feedlot to the small privately-owned operations I find one thing in common across the board, they do not invest in their employees’ training or future career within the industry. My proposal to feedlots across Australia is to ask them, on behalf of everyone entering the industry wanting to progress in their Lot Feeding careers or have a desire to expand their skill set, be an educator or a mentor. Offer on the job training and continued learning opportunities for your employees. Run training workshops with industry leaders, vets, trainer assessors and create programs with senior staff so they are equipped with the skills to train new employees as they enter the organisation. 

Provide educational opportunities in the yards. 

Offer training for everyone to learn new cattle handling techniques, for example, how to move cattle within yards with low stress or how to prepare cattle for drafting and inductions. Invest in industry personnel to build the skill set needed to succeed in the industry of lot feeding working as a livestock hand. Running a workshop over the course of a few days or a week provides different yard scenarios to equip livestock hands with the knowledge to safely and calmly approach the task at hand and you will see the benefits to your business when staff handle cattle safely and efficiently. When I first entered the Lot Feeding industry, I was not given any yard training or shown the best techniques when handling cattle or working in the yards. I was left to work it myself like so many others who enter the industry as the mentality is to sink or swim. This is a major industry flaw of companies hiring large quantities of new staff and not providing training. It was simply an instruction of “go out the back and move those cattle up”. No one showed me how or the best places to be standing to avoid injury or increase better flow of movement. 

Educate in the husbandry field. 

Offer a workshop with local vet clinics to provide everyone with skills to identify and treat sick cattle. Provide a series of symptoms using visual aids or real life on the job training to teach everyone to identify what illness needs to be treated. Incorporate both theory and practical days to assist in their education and build industry skills. Identifying illness is something people often don’t pass on to others wanting to learn more. I loved teaching my techniques to others and wished someone did it for me much sooner, but training was never provided. 

Offer a job swap among the company. 

Allow individuals who express an interest or desire to work in another area to experience that role for a day. Such as a Livestock Hand experiencing the Feed Team and vice versa.
I have personally experienced this in feedlots with people wanting to transfer to other areas but are not considered because of lack of experience. I would have loved to have done this and did request it several times but was always ignored as I had “no training on the Feed team”. I had no cattle training when starting out either but gained that from experience and doing the work. It can only improve the company and industry as a whole by having people skilled across multiple areas of lot feeding. There is a noticeable gap within the lot feeding industry regarding the training available to those individuals pursuing leadership and management roles. Livestock Hands are often interested in career progression within the company or industry they work in; however they are not taken seriously because they have not had enough experience or haven’t been in the industry long enough to be suitable for the position. The lot feeding industry has much to gain from investing in their employees, the backbone of their company. Individuals across feedlots in Australia, no matter the area, would progress and succeed in current and desired roles with more training support from management and the company.

 

I would like to see further education and training provided to those pursuing leading hand roles in livestock, feed mills and maintenance teams. Without such support, organisations will miss out on many talented and perfectly capable individuals who are passionate and driven to succeed in this industry. Who knows where the next rising star of agriculture could be….