Has the perception of women changed in the agricultural industry?

For decades women were under-appreciated for their pivotal role in agriculture industry, but thankfully this is changing. At Lely there has never been any doubt that women are an integral part of our team and our mission of caring for cows and farmers across the world.

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With vast amounts of experience and insights, our female colleagues in the UK and Ireland have shared their experience of working in our industry and the changes that they have seen.

Addi Kidson, Lely Customer Sales Support, joined the company in April 2019 having previously spent seven years in grassland management where she worked closely with cows at all different stages in their productive life cycle, She believes technology has allowed women to play a much greater role on the farm.

“A dairy cow is a female and it celebrates the female ability to produce a nutritious commodity, which is slowly being realised by a wider spectrum,” she says.

“By introducing technology that enables a higher level of safety when handling stock, the parameters of physical ability are no longer seen as an issue. Attitude should be given a much higher weight than gender and I feel the shift is getting closer.”

Addi is inspired by the principle of free cow traffic and the enhancements it brings to an overall farming system, whatever Lely product is involved. 

“Free cow traffic puts the cows welfare as the highest priority, which means she makes the decisions to meet her needs and the farmer allows her the space to make the best choices for her,” she explains.

Afrik McAvoy is this year’s Lely Atlantic placement student from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She lives on her family farm where her parents have Limousin beef suckler cows.

Afrik has been passionate about farming ever since her feet could touch the tractor’s pedals and she has seen first-hand how strong women have taken the lead in the business.

“My late granny has always been a source of inspiration to me as she was not afraid to speak her mind despite what others may have thought of her being female and working in the agricultural industry. She taught me to be opinionated and say what was on my mind as it’s important to help run the family farm.

‘’The agricultural community has become more open to women entering the industry. Although, I have experienced some negative comments it has never phased me or held me back. Since joining Lely it has made me realise how the number of women in this industry has grown from other aspects, it’s refreshing to see so many talented women have an influence on the growth of automation within the UK and Ireland.’’

Another key member of the Lely team is Olivia Edgerton, who joined in January 2022 as part of the Farm Management Support team. Prior to joining Lely Olivia completed a degree in Agriculture and Dairy Herd Management at Reaseheath College.

Olivia's passion for agriculture started at a young age when her mother would take her to cattle markets “Cows all have their own personalities and characters and it is amazing to see the love and dedication that farmers have to care for these animals.” She also loves that no two days are the same in the agricultural industry.

“The opportunities in the dairy industry are endless, with innovation being a huge drive to future proof the industry going forward. It is a pleasure to be a part of that journey.”

“There is always work to be done to put women on the pedestal of success in dairying butI believe that robotic innovations will really enhance opportunities for women going forward.“

Olivia has taken a particular shine to the Lely Vector automatic feeding robot “The ability to feed cows 24/7 through an automated system is inspiring and really puts the cow first to help secure her genetic potential with milk production.”

Another fan of the Lely Vector is Ailish Brennan, Marketing and Communication Executive at Lely who joined in 2007.  She believes there are genuine benefits to all the products and services but believes the Lely Astronaut has revolutionised the dairy industry, she says.

“Over the past 15 years, greater efforts are being made to encourage women to persue careers in the science, technology and engineering fields and we are slowly starting to see the benefits of that now,”

“For example many of Lely’s Farm Management System advisors are women and it is fantastic to see women at all levels and in all roles within our organisation.”

Ailish believes the role of women on farms has changed from the customer’s perspective as well with more young women becoming dairy farmers.

“Women are involved in all farming activities and are key contributors to the decision making process when it comes to investment.”

For more on our latest innovations, views and expert opinions visit: www.lely.com/gb/farming-insights/

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