When I was a teenager, I dreamt of being a big-time cattle and sheep farmer. Working at the local livestock market gave me access to the unwanted stock that was going cheap, including one angry Jacob ewe (with sharp horns), some old mules and three billy goats (they didn’t stay long due to issues with containment). With a limited budget, I slowly built up my little flock of random breeds.
So, I was delighted when my student loan came through, and I had additional funds to spend big and bid on some pedigree texels ewes. Despite some disapproving comments, I remember the sense of pride and happiness I felt when I watched these smart sheep trot off the trailer and skip onto fresh pastures on the farm.
The next day, I went out to inspect my beautiful flock, and after a recount, I realised I was missing a ewe. Naturally, I checked the ditch first and then saw in the distance a large white body lying still over by the water tank. I knew straight away she was dead. I couldn’t see the cause. Twisted gut? Heart attack? I was gutted and frustrated.
Frustration turned to anger when I discovered two more dead the next day. At this point, I suspected it was something infectious, so I called the vet. They suspected Pasteurella pneumonia, so we vaccinated the rest of the flock.
In total, I lost four out of six pedigree ewes. My farming family reminded me that it was ‘money down the drain’, but all I felt was an overwhelming sense of failure and guilt. If only I had known more, I could have kept my animals safe. I was heartbroken, and for a while, I hated myself. Having grown up on a farm, I was used to dead livestock, but this was my stock and my fault.
After picking myself up off the floor, I decided I was never going to make the same mistakes again, so I enrolled on an online Animal Health Diploma and did my homework on all the reasons how and why sheep die. It’s extensive!
With my studies, my interest grew, which led to a career within the agricultural industry, advising on and selling animal health. I was fortunate to find a business that put me through my AMTRA qualification, cows signals, and a hoof trimming course! I was hooked on the agricultural industry, and I was okay with my part-time farmer role because I was learning all the time whilst being surrounded by people with the same interests.
Moving into agricultural recruitment six years ago gave me the opportunity to help shape and grow agricultural businesses while working with people who share my passion for the industry. It’s a privilege to watch this resilient industry innovate and adapt to meet ongoing challenges.
Looking back at those teenage years, I was naive, reckless, and I didn’t really have a solid plan. However, I am so glad that a lesson learned sparked an interest in me that would lead me to exactly where I am now. I’m a huge believer in focusing on what you’re passionate about in order to achieve your career goals.
So dream big, follow your interests and let the plan fall into place.
Jane Righton is a Senior Recruitment Consultant in the Agriculture and Equine Business Unit at Noble Futures, a leading recruiter in the Animal Health and Agri-related industries. If you would like to speak to Jane or our team about your Agricultural career and where it can take you, please get in touch today!