There are very few tasks that Louise Fotheringham will not turn her hand to in the Scottish countryside, who now works for Spratts Game Foods and enjoys showing her Highland Cattle.

A country girl with an accountant’s brain is how Louise Fotheringham describes herself and any spare time Louise has in the summer months she will spend showing Highland cattle, stewarding and commentating on classes.

A member of the East of Scotland Highland Cattle Club and the Highland Cattle Society, she grew up on the family farm in the Angus Glens.

Louise pestered her stepfather until she was allowed to start her own fold and found herself in the ribbons many times with her home-bred Cairncross stock. She says the only downside of clocking up so many miles with work has been taking the difficult decision to sell her own beloved cattle.

“I just couldn’t commit the time to them with my busy job; it wasn’t fair to be always asking others to see to them. But thankfully I have been able to stay involved in showing through friends. I absolutely love the cattle showing world; I’ve met so many people through it,” said Louise. Louise had been working as a trainee accountant before flying the nest to work for Spratts Game Foods, based in the East of Scotland.

The Scottish Farmer: Louise FotheringhamLouise Fotheringham (Image: web)

“I still love the challenge of getting to the bottom of a tricky spreadsheet,” said 28-year-old, Louise.

“But the favourite part of my job when I worked in accounts was speaking to any rural client and - in the end - it became obvious that I needed to be out and about meeting country people,” she added.

Making the move in September 2021, Louise joined Spratts, which specialises in producing feed for sporting game and working dogs, as a sales manager, making this her second full season working within the game industry.

Spratt’s was established originally in London in 1860 and pioneered the concept of animal nutrition with appropriate foods for each stage to meet their exacting nutritional needs.

Purchased by East Coast Viners, based near Laurencekirk, it is now 150 years on and the company still prioritises nutritional needs but has added modern touches such as equipping each of the game feed lorries with mini forklifts so deliveries can be unloaded without help, which has proved a huge help to the gamekeepers.

Not only does Louise sell the feed, but can often be found down at the mill with a shovel in hand helping to mix the grit or jumping behind the wheel of a truck to take an urgent delivery out. “There is no doubt that this is a male-dominated sector, but I have found everybody to be very welcoming. The bottom line is as long as you know your stuff it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female,” she said.

Louise passionately believes nutrition can play a vital part in combating avian flu: “Gut health is key to disease prevention and a powerful tool in the ongoing fight against avian flu. Getting the nutrition right definitely makes the birds more resistant to avian flu and other diseases,” she explained. Cereal for the feed is harvested from East Coast Viners own farms, with the remainder being bought in from the local area.

“Starting off with the highest quality raw materials in a feed mix is really important. Of course, high protein is vital to make sure the birds develop and grows well. It can be a challenge to get the fibre levels right as game birds find digesting fibre more difficult.

“A good diet isn’t just about getting a bird to grow and helping shoots be more profitable. It’s also vital to help the birds keep warm in challenging weather conditions and help in the fight against disease,” she said.

Speaking about her role, Louise says every day is different, involving a lot of travelling with her clients spread all over a huge area covering Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

She also enjoys hill walking and getting some shooting practice in, alongside her trusty cocker spaniel Eva, as well as helping customers with beating throughout the season.

“I was familiar with the game world before I joined Spratts as I helped out at a shooting lodge when I was younger.

“I have a gun but most certainly need to get more practice in! It’s important to be able to understand the whole game world when I’m talking to my clients.

“I have been going along to Auchterhouse Country Sports, near Dundee, to practice shooting and my customers are always happy to pass on a few tips.

There is no shortage of invitations with my job, but I’m quite competitive and want to be sure to bring home a successful bag of game before I say yes!”

Finally, Louise says her work has helped her understand the part that country pursuits have to play in the fabric of rural life.

“I love the countryside and the endless opportunities to enjoy its scenery with the likes of walking, shooting and fishing. With every day I realise that it’s the people who work in rural areas and the community spirit they share that is our countryside’s most important asset.

“The more I see of the shooting industry the more I realise the number of people it helps to support. Keepers, ghillies, beaters, housekeepers, cooks - and then the income to butchers, bakers, hotels and local shops and restaurants. The people who come to the Scottish countryside to shoot spend large sums of money not just on the estates but in the wider community. I do worry that if shooting were ever banned it would cause the most devastating financial loss to so many,” she concluded.