Animals are in Laura’s blood. While most 12-year-olds were perfecting their strops and demanding to hang around shopping centres with their friends, Laura was volunteering at her local petting zoo.
“I volunteered there since I was 12 and ended up working at weekends and holidays for about 10 years. I loved the animals and couldn’t get enough of the place.”
Now an assistant herdsmen and one of the newest members of the dairy team, Laura went to the Royal Agricultural College where she studied agriculture and livestock management.
Of course, it wasn’t all work.
“It’s a great place to go and the name alone stands you in good stead, but I did my fair share of pints,” she laughs.
From Hook in Hampshire, the 27-year-old has plenty of dairy experience.
“I moved to Carlisle as assistant manager on a 600-pedigree Holstein farm. It was family-run and a brilliant place to cut my teeth but of course I was never going to end up running it so after 2 years or so I realised I’d reached the ceiling.
“From there I moved to West Sussex. I managed a 300-strong Holstein herd which block-calved in spring and autumn.
“I was there for 18 months before upping sticks and going to Australia for a year. I’d met my partner, Nick, in West Sussex and we decided that before we got too settled we’d do some exploring as it was something we both really wanted to do. It wasn’t that we wanted to travel particularly – it was more because we wanted to work in a different environment.
“We spent three months in New South Wales during the harvest, driving tractors and combines. We were part of a great team so it was a lot of fun. Then we spent a week driving up to the Northern Territories, working in the Simpson Desert for Crown Point Pastoral which had a total land mass that was bigger than Wales.
“They had four stations in total and our station alone was 11,500 sq km with 45,000 head of cattle. Our main task was to manage the water and muster the stock on motorbikes and helicopters. The conditions were the toughest I’ve ever known – the worst day was fencing in 48 degrees. You just have to block it out. You stop for three hours in the middle of the day in the real thick of the heat, but then you’re in the shade battling the flies.”
So the snow just before Christmas at Sansaw was a welcome departure?
“Definitely,” she laughs. “It brought its own challenges but the cows loved it. They’re much hardier than we give them credit for and it was interesting for me to compare our herd to the mollycoddled pedigrees I’ve been used to looking after.”
And talking of challenges, there’s the small matter of 1,000 cows calving in February. Laura’s undaunted though.
“I’m massively looking forward to calving. It’s going to be pretty manic but we’ve got a team running the calving shed 24 hours a day who give the calves their very first feed and I’ll go and pick up the new batch of babies.”
Living on the estate, Laura is just 100 metres away from the dairy parlour. In many ways she’d prefer to be even closer.
“I really like to work. I’m quite driven so I’ve never worried too much about the location as I’m more interested in the challenge ahead. My mum has been really supportive of my career and she’s even come milking with me on Christmas Day!”