JESSIE WEAVER might be young and female, but she is adamant and determined to carve out a career for herself in the dairy industry.
Growing up on the outskirts of Sydney, Jessie fell in love with agriculture when her parents moved to a beef farm at Taylors Arm on the mid North Coast.
The love only intensified through the ag program her local high school ran.
“I developed a deep passion for agriculture and animals,” Jessie said.
“Cattle reproduction is where I wanted to go and I was really keen on learning how to AI and the whole process of getting a cow in calf, maintaining pregnancy and the birth of a healthy calf.”
Jessie did attempt an animal science degree at UNE but changed her mind and in 2015, she started working on a 250-cow dairy farm just down the road from her parents in NSW.
“I was the main milker and AI tech but I became hungry for more experience; I didn’t just want to milk.”
Jessie said a real turning point for her came when she was fortunate to be selected for Dairy Australia’s Dairy Path program.
“I was quite proud to be selected as one of eleven participants and it has been great.
“It’s a bit like a personal development program where you set realistic goals based on your own personal motivation and what makes you tick.
“That helped me realise that just milking cows was not going to cut it and I needed to step up.”
That desire has seen Jessie make a move to northern Victoria where she is currently working on a 1100-cow farm at Undera.
“I have only been here four months but I have learnt so much already,” she said.
Jessie’s job description is varied and she has been able to participate in many different aspects of running a large herd from calf rearing to animal health.
“A big farm is nowhere near as personal and it is hard to have a relationship with the cows when you are always busy but I am learning a lot and really enjoying it.”
Things are currently quiet on the farm but with 300 cows ready to calve, the days will be ramping up shortly.
“My passion is reproduction and I have a lot of things in mind for my future,” Jessie said.
“I would really like to run an AI and preg testing business but vets offer that.
“I am interested in looking more into bulls and genetics and I am hoping to learn a lot more about that — maybe I can step into a herd management role. I guess it just depends where life takes me.”
Jessie hasn’t ruled out returning to study either, especially something around reproduction.
She recently spent some time in Bega attending a dairy symposium.
“The conference was great and I really enjoyed the presentations, especially by the young scientists.
“Events like these offer great networking opportunities and over the years I have met some significant people who have impacted my life.”
She was surprised by the number of young people in attendance.
“There is a lot of pressure on the dairy industry at the moment which everyone feels but there was a lot of optimism at the symposium.
“It was a nice surprise to see so many young people in the room because I think one of the biggest challenges the industry faces is, where is the future of the industry going to come from.
“We are there, we just need to be supported and looked after. We also have a voice and it is important to hear what we want for the future of the industry.”
Jessie said as a young woman she felt she isn’t always given the same opportunities as a male would be, but the more work places she goes too, the more women she sees and she feels the tide is slowly turning.
“I think I face a lot more challenges because I am a woman,” Jessie said.
“Sometimes I am not taken seriously, especially by older men who think they can walk all over me. This can take away confidence and makes me second guess myself sometimes, but at the end of the day I won’t let that get in the way of where I want to go.”