Please note javascript is required for full website functionality.


26 November, 2022

Peta Bradley, MLA

Peta is the manager of sheep genetics, within the livestock genetics team at Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

By Emily Middleton

The sheep genetics unit is responsible for delivering the national genetic evaluation to the sheep industry, meaning “I get to work alongside some of the leading edge sheep producers in the country as well as world-leading scientists operating in this space”.

Making sure we have the right people in the right roles is something Peta believes is important to the success of any team of business. As Australia enters a new time for agriculture, there a many women taking on roles in the industry, including senior roles like Peta.

“There are lots of great role models and mentors out there from both genders. Surround yourself with a good team and mentors and the world is your oyster!”

There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ day for Peta, which is one of the things she loves about her job.

“Every day is different! You can be doing anything from being in the office, to travelling to present, or working alongside sheep breeders and scientists,” she said.

But a ‘normal office day’ for Peta starts with her heading to the MLA office in Armidale, where she is greeted by about 25 other staff members. Peta says that MLA have multiple offices around the world, with about 260 people employed from producer facing roles to IT and marketing.

“Our marketing team is responsible for the Australia Day lamb ad every year that you might see – this is aimed at getting more people to buy Australian lamb.”

But once in the office, Peta starts the day by checking emails to see if anything urgent has come up. “I want to make sure that if there are any things that need to be looked at straight away, the team are able to work on these as a priority.

“I then go into my first meeting of the day. Each day we meet for a short, 10 minute meeting, with an IT development company based in Sydney that is working on our new database systems. Who knew after studying ag I would be working so much with computers and code! But ag is becoming such a data driven industry. It has been an important project to be part of.”

From here, Peta will meet with the sheep genetics team. There are seven others in the team, so she says that teamwork is such an important skill in her job, as with any job.

“We are discussing upcoming travel, speaking engagements and training. Some of the things we are planning at the moment include delivering training packages to sheep breeders to use specialised software, software development sessions, forums working with producers, online webinars we are delivering, and committee meetings.”

But the day doesn’t stop there. In the afternoon, Peta often finds herself meeting with research scientists from the University of New England (UNE). These scientists work in livestock genetics, and Peta says they are “some of the brightest minds in this field from anywhere in the world”.

“Part of our role at sheep genetics is to understand the science they work on and be able to ‘translate’ it into practical on-farm messages from sheep breeders.”

That’s just one day in the life of Peta. Since high school Peta knew she was interested in agriculture, particularly in livestock production.

By the end of year 10 she found her love for genetics, but also from her involvement at her family’s farm in Armatree.

“After some research I found that the UNE in Armidale was a hub for livestock genetics; I set my sights on studying here. After year 12 I went straight to UNE to study a bachelor of rural science,” said Peta.

Throughout her degree, Peta gained an understanding and appreciation for all farming systems and how they integrate, as well as expanding her love of genetics.

In her final year, she began an honours project which looked into genetic parameter for reproduction trails in sheep.

“This led to my first role within MLA as the development officer within the sheep genetics team.

“Since then, I have had a range of roles within the genetics team including project management through to my current role as sheep genetics manager.”

Peta finds her job immensely rewarding. Being able to develop tangible outcomes to the sheep industry is something she is passionate about, and she can see the significant impacts it has on farming businesses.

"The sheep industry has made a lot of genetic progress over a long period of time,” said Peta.

“We are now entering an era where exciting new technologies like DNA testing means we can make progress faster than ever before! Being able to combine my love of farming with my passion of science is very unique opportunity. Also being able to be part of a team that is passionate about what they do and to see team members succeed in their roles, is a very gratifying thing.

“You don’t have to be from a farm to have a career in agriculture.”

That is something Peta wants to express. She says there are many ways to be involved in ag, both behind and beyond, the farmgate.

“Within our company we have people from IT to marketing to people with agricultural science backgrounds – the thing we all have in common? We all work in ag! There are more jobs than people in agriculture at the moment so there is ample opportunity for anyone thinking of heading down this path.”

For young women considering a career in the industry, her best piece of advice is to “take all the opportunities that come your way”.

Most Popular