A DAY IN THE LIFE: NAOMI COONEY, CATTLE BREEDING SERVICES
Naomi Cooney lives and breathes cattle. Naomi owns and runs a bovine artificial insemination (AI) business, Cattle Breeding Services, driving her trusty Isuzu NPR 45-155 Tradepack around rural Queensland and servicing around 300 farms. Her business also sees her transporting liquid nitrogen to customers who need them.
A self-confessed morning person, Naomi starts her day at 4.30 am, and most days will see her driving down the dusty roads and highways, delivering the liquid nitrogen essential to her customers in her truck.
Naomi chats with us about her active days and the challenges she comes across.
What does a standard day look like for you?
I feed and check all my own animals, let my dogs out for a run, check everything and then jump in the truck and plug into the GPS all the job sites I need to get to for the day.
The shortest run would probably take me four hours; the longest run I’d do would probably take up 14–16 hours of the day.
Four days of the week I drive around servicing tanks, other days we have full days of cattle work and paddock maintenance.
Can you tell us a bit about your background in the cattle industry?
I spent most of my childhood in Queensland, in a place called Mooloo, just outside of Gympie. I picked beans for pocket money, mustered stock, did little bits and pieces for people.
After studying Applied Science in Rural Technology at university, I came back to the Gympie area and had a half-share in my parent’s stud. I really enjoyed the breeding and genetics side of it and saw an availability in the industry to be able to build my bovine artificial insemination business.
Working with other people’s cows, it’s interesting to see why they’re using different bulls. And I get people come up to me and say, “These are your calves Naomi, you bred these.”
Did you feel there were any challenges for you getting into this line of work?
There’s always that little bit of doubt in the back of your mind all the time, the “Am I going to be good enough?”
I think that’s just human nature though, you have to be confident, but also always need to double-check yourself. I just do my job to the best of my ability.
I’m not going to be as strong as a typical bloke in certain areas; but I perform very well in other areas—I can multitask, I can be a bit more thoughtful working with the cows.
But you don’t get anything for free. When you work for it and earn it, you appreciate it a lot more. If you really want something, you can work hard enough to get it.
Have there been any changes to the industry recently?
There’s easier availability and access of genetics from all over the world, and it’s a little more cost-effective now that more people are using artificial insemination.
The practical side hasn’t changed, but the level of technology is better. I can see the industry growing because there are more smaller farms with maybe 10 to 20 cows, so my side of the business is getting busier.
On the flip side the drought is having a negative effect on our industry as water is now a massive issue, and a lot of farms have got to the point where they physically can’t keep feeding their animals. I suppose that’s life though—when you live on the land, you need to accept that these things are cyclical, it’s about adapting and learning to build.
What advice would you give to young women looking to get into the industry?
Never be afraid to ask questions, there is never ever a stupid question, that’s how you learn. Surround yourself with people who are positive and will help you get to where you need to go.
There’s a lot of aspects to owning a farm or working in agriculture—there’s a lot of not so exciting jobs like fencing, weeding, spraying that can take up most of your time. When you’re on the land, you do it because you love to do it, or you love cows, or you love agriculture.
If you had a daughter, would you be happy if she followed your career path?
Yes! Although all my “children” have four legs, I have nieces and nephews that love coming up to the farm and giving me a hand. We try to get out and about to shows, we even have kids ringing us up or approaching us on the day to ask if we have an animal for them to take out to the Junior Handler’s sections at various shows.
There are not enough people coming into the industry, so you need to try and help those who are keen to get into it.
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