June 22, 2021 By

A young lady in a man’s world

The cattle saleyard has long been the ‘domain of the male buyer’. Mostly older men with years of experience, some might even say cagey, as they try to buy the next pen just that bit cheaper than the opposition buyers. Of course, if you ask them, they all buy the best and the cheapest cattle every sale; so is their skill, confidence and bravado.

Enter a young 23-year-old woman, Miss Payton Jennings in mid-2020. For nearly 12 months now Payton has been a regular at saleyards around south east Queensland and as far north as Gracemere (Rockhampton). A local girl from Pomona who has always had a keen interest in livestock and agriculture. Upon completing her schooling at Noosa District High School, Payton worked for a short time in Nolan Meats Stock Team. “I openly admit it wasn’t the easiest job, I liked it, but I kept looking for something a bit closer to home, which I eventually found,” she said.

“I worked in a few different places, but in January 2018 I went back to Nolan Meats, partly in the Stock Team, but mostly in the Admin Team as a Livestock Clerk. After about two and a half years Terry Nolan asked me if I would like to do some saleyard buying. I had spoken to plenty of livestock vendors over the phone and so I jumped at the chance to attend actual saleyards.”

Nolan Meats are one of the biggest supporters of the Gympie Saleyards regularly buying 15 -25% of the yarding. Local agent Dan Sullivan said, “We cater for the people that buy one head per year to the global companies that buy one million a year as well as everyone in between”, When asked what he thought of a young lady representing a local company he said, “I think it is terrific. It is great to see any new buyers attending and it is great that Nolan Meats have seen the potential in young Payton and the willingness to give her a go. She holds her own amongst the men jostling for the best value buys on any given day.”

When asked do you see many female buyers he said “she is certainly not the first lady we have seen buying for the larger companies but even in this day and age you would have to say she is still in a very small minority.”

In 2019 Nolan Meats took a team of girls to a ‘Meat Business Women’ conference sponsored by the Australian Meat Industry Council as a way of promoting the Meat Industry as a career choice for women. “I thought it was great a great insight for us girls. We met inspirational speakers from overseas and had the chance for a one-on-one chat with Senator Susan McDonald.”

When asked if there are career opportunities for women in the meat industry, “Absolutely” replies Payton, “at Nolan Meats we have girls as electricians, fitters, skilled knife hands, Meat Inspectors, MSA Graders, Environmental Officers, HR Specialists as well as Admin positions, we are only limited by our desire to have a go.”

Where to from here for Payton? “Well, she is still learning a lot,” says Terry Nolan, “she is just starting to realise that the more you know, the more you realise you need to learn”.

Payton is acting as a mentor for another young local Widgee girl Maddy Carter, who is learning the ropes as a Livestock Clerk. On a personal front she has bought a farm at Goomeri with her partner and like most young people finding that there are so many things to do and not enough hours in a day to do them.