Raised in the Northern Territory's Barkly Tablelands, on picturesque Anthony Lagoon station, Louise Rush developed a passion for livestock and horses.
Her parents were managing the property, which makes up part of the historic Barkly stock route and has been used for breeding, backgroundoing and trading high-grade Brahman-cross cattle for live export for many years by its former owner Heytesbury Cattle Co and now AACo.
Ms Rush said growing up on Anthony Lagoon in the outback instilled in her a love of working cattle on horseback.
She said this attracted her to the role of animal health supervisor at the Iranda feedlot, which is owned by Thomas Foods International (TFI).
"Every day now, I am on a horse in the feedlot pens checking cattle to identify any animals that may need treatments or hospitalisation," she said.
"This was the part of the job I was particularly drawn to.
"You can get a much better view of any stock issues from the higher vantage point of sitting in a saddle.
"And the cattle are so used to the horses, that it creates a low stress environment for both the stock and the staff handling them."
After completing a combined applied sciences and agribusiness degree at the University of Queensland, Ms Rush was offered a graduate program with TFI.
Through this, she was able to work in a range of roles at the feedlot and get an understanding about the company's operations from the paddock through to finishing systems, processing and retail beef branding.
"I spent much of my childhood on the ground level of the cattle supply chain, then I worked in processing during my time at university and now - at the TFI feedlot - I am in the middle sector that links both ends," she said.
Ms Rush said TFI's Iranda facility used best-practice animal handling, health and welfare practices and had been named most outstanding feedlot in South Australia in the 2019 Meat Standards Australia awards, coordinated by Meat & Livestock Australia.
She said TFI had been fully supportive of her undertaking the ALFA Margin and People Management (MPM) program, which is designed to provide participants with skills to run a modern, profitable feedlot business.
"Despite disruptions to our training sessions due to COVID-2020, it has been invaluable in terms of networking and sharing ideas," she said.
"I am relatively new to the industry, so it has been brilliant to meet other professionals in the lot feeding industry in every state through MPM."
Ms Rush said the program was also helping her finetune skills in people management and business financial planning.
"There have been sessions covering people management, effective presentations, communication and basic financial margin management," she said.
"Part of the MPM program also covers how to work more effectively with other people, especially in difficult situations, which I think is a key part of having a productive and satisfied workforce."