Dourie Farming Company Ltd.

Dairy manager Becca started her career in the Navy

Becca started out life as a Warfare Office in the Royal Navy, rising to Second-in-Command of an Offshore Patrol Vessel, but she always knew that she wanted to work in agriculture.

Finding a way into the industry from the outside world is not always clear, however, and she had a “near miss” when she was offered a warehouse area manager role with Amazon. As fate conspires, Becca attended a webinar run by Fiona Galbraith of Rural Link just at the right time. Fiona established Rural Link after her own time in the Army to help get military veterans into rural jobs, especially in agriculture. 

The encounter reignited Becca’s hopes of working in the farming industry. By chance, Gail Ellis of Greenburn Recruitment, who helps to find staff for Dourie, had seen Rural Link’s advert in The Scottish Farming Leader and got in touch with Fiona Galbraith who, by now, had the perfect candidate in Becca.

Gail was upfront about the intensity of the job, but Becca was undeterred: she was already used to long, tough shifts in the Navy. How different could it be? She came to Dourie for a week-long interview in August 2020, which culminated in a 50-mile bike ride with Rory and a job offer.

Becca was taken on as a trainee general manager, but when the opportunity arose unexpectedly, she stepped up to become dairy manager at the beginning of calving. “It was the best thing that could have happened in hindsight,” Becca says. “I got far more hands-on experience and had full responsibility for the calved cows and the parlour, which allowed me to really get into the weeds of how the parlour works and become familiar with most aspects of cow health.”

Becca now has overall responsibility for both dairies and oversees the cows. She works closely with the grass manager, ensuring grazing areas are working, and directing contractors on mowing and silage etc. 

Her biggest role is to make sure that everyone knows and is achieving what they should be doing. She works closely with Rory most of the day and is slowly taking over more day-to-day management. “As well as day-to-day farm-work, Rory involves me in business strategy and long-term thinking so that I understand where we’re trying to get to, how to achieve that and how to disseminate the information to all areas of the business,” says Becca.

Life at Dourie is good: “I love being outside. Nothing beats that and it is an amazing place to work,” says Becca. “There is a view that farming is an isolated profession and, while I can’t speak for other farms, there are things happening here all the time and I see and speak to a lot of people every day.

“I really enjoy the atmosphere; there is pressure to do things right but it’s different from the Navy: there’s more team support and because we’re in a small team we get to know each other really well and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Becca says her first year at the farm has “flown by” and that she now has a good overview of how things work. “My aim is to get to a level of competence that Rory feels he can go away and leave it to me. Success would mean that he gives me a vision and I can make it happen without any drama.”

“I can quite easily see myself staying here long term.  One of my aims about leaving the military was to have a more stable life so I would rather make a full success of this than keep moving around.”

In addition to the huge amount Becca is learning day-to-day she has recently done an artificial insemination (AI) course and a financial management course for farm business, and is planning to undertake a dairy management course as well. “Rory is really good at teaching and I ask him questions continually. That’s why it works so well: he is so willing to teach, to discuss everything and not hide any part of the business.”

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