Career journey: Alexa Hearn, Thomas Foods International

Meet Alexa Hearn, feedlot graduate at Thomas Foods International feedlot, Tintinara, South Australia. 

Born and bred in Sydney, the outback Cameron’s Corner with its population of five at last count, was a world away from Alexa Hearn’s city life. But a camping trip soon changed that. 

At just nine years old, a youngster watched in awe as cattle were loaded onto trucks at a station her family was camping at. 

“All I wanted to do was get in the yards and help and I remember the truck driver gave me a firm ‘stay back’ warning,” Alexa chuckles. 

“But after that I was just fascinated by the industry as a whole, the cattle, the people and their passion for what they do.”

More than 20 years on, Alexa (30) is the feedlot graduate at Thomas Foods International feedlot in Tintinara, South Australia. Alexa’s curiosity and passion for agriculture, spawned by that camping trip, has seen her work on a cattle and sheep property, take on a role with livestock marketing platform AuctionsPlus, and then begin her feedlot career at the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association operating Feedlot TECH before eventually finding her feet on a feedlot. 

In November 2022 she heeded the advice of former boss, Anna Speer, and got “comfortable with being uncomfortable”. She packed up and moved 1,231 kilometres from Sydney to Tintinara to get her feet dirty on a feedlot – and she’s hooked.

“I’m a very methodical and routine-driven person so it absolutely suits my personality, but it’s also multifaceted,” Alexa said. 

“It’s not just working cattle every day, it’s working with their overall health, and the profitability of the business,” Alexa said. 

Alexa works on a roster of 10 days on and 4 days off with the livestock team. Her day starts with a team meeting, before walking pens where the cattle are on feed for a high number of days – these cattle are generally nearing, or over, 120 days on feed. Alexa then moves on to running hospital treatments on cattle, drafting cattle to trucks, and inducting new cattle into the feedlot. She’s constantly learning and evolving, and says that’s key for all young people entering the feedlot industry.  

“Ask questions. There’s a quote that someone in our office has on display that says ‘a lot of time and effort has gone into making this look easy’ and that’s really resonated with me,” Alexa said. 

Alexa is a prime example of a candidate that Thomas Foods International Feedlot is seeking for their next Rural Pathways Program which aims to close the divide between country and city. The program won the 2022 Community Heroes Award with the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, proudly sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition, and will open for applications in late 2023.