Ahead of International Women’s Day this Friday (March 8), Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has said it is celebrating women who work in the red meat industry.

HCC said International Women’s Day is a day to challenge stereotypes and mark the achievements of women.

The industry is traditionally associated with men, but that there are “many inspiring women who are making their mark in the industry”, HCC said.

Two beef and sheep farmers from mid Wales, Sioned Thomas-Jones and Mali Davies, spoke to HCC about their passion for the industry ahead of International Women’s Day.

Speaking about the role of women in the industry and at HCC, HCC’s communications and external affairs lead, Anne Dunn, said: “Women have seen a real change in attitudes over the years and there is more support out there now.

“However, we mustn’t shy away from conversations around equality and providing opportunities for young women to enter the industry.  

“HCC employs some phenomenal women and works with many others in the sector – on International Women’s Day we are honoured to acknowledge the important role they play on farms across Wales and the tremendous contributions women make to family life, rural businesses, the red meat industry and our economy.” 

‘Multi-tasking mother’

Full-time farmer and diversifier Sioned Thomas-Jones has been described by HCC as a “multi-tasking mother”.

She is one of many generations of her family to farm at Nant-y-Gaseg near Machynlleth, mid Wales.

In partnership with her parents, Huw and Eleri, she runs a flock of around 960 head of speckle faced, Welsh Tregaron type and crossbred ewes, selling the finished lambs at the local livestock market.

They also keep 30 suckler cows and sell their Limousin X store cattle at the local market, where they recently made history in the ring selling their 17-month Lim X steer for a centre record of £2,010.  

Thomas-Jones said she has always wanted to be a farmer.

“I had a keen interest in farming from a very young age and have worked here on the farm for nearly twenty years,” she said.

“I enjoy being out on the hills gathering the sheep, looking down on the Dyfi Valley – it really is heaven on earth for me.  

“My passion is sheep work. Shearing and lambing, I love it. Lambing in particular is a special time of year, there is nothing better than welcoming new life onto the farm, and I enjoy sharing that experience with my nine-year-old son, Huw Ifan.” 

Acceptance in the farming community

Thomas-Jones said she has never felt any different for being a woman in the industry, and has been wholeheartedly accepted in the farming community.

“I strongly feel that women play an equal role in the industry and have many female friends who work on farms,” she said.

“Women have always been critical on the farm but traditionally may not have been given the credit they deserve.

“Despite being quite old-fashioned here – we enjoy coming into the house to a nice meal on the table after a long day on the hills, usually prepared by my mother, who also plays a crucial role in the business – it gives me great pride to see that things have now changed, women are proving that it’s not just an industry for men. 

“I’m involved in all aspects of the farm – from handling the animals to the big machinery – it’s what I enjoy.”

However, Thomas-Jones said she feels sadness that farmers’ wives may need to work other jobs for additional income to support the family.

“It’s tough when you have to split yourself between two big demands – the farm and paid employment – and raising a family at the same time too.

“I’d like to see more women entering the industry and I’m keen to play my part in securing a sustainable future for the red meat sector.

“I think the future for women in agriculture looks bright. If you are passionate about farming, dedicated and enjoy what you do like I do, then my only advice would be to go for it!” 

Pontargamddwr farmer

20-year-old Mali Davies farms Pontargamddwr on the outskirts of Tregaron. 

Bordering the Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, which is a vast area of wetland filling the broad valley of the River Teifi, the farm has been in the Davies family since 2000.

Mali Davies

Davies farms here alongside her mother Sian and sister Gwawr. They look after 50 cattle and 300 sheep. 

Davies studies rural enterprise and land management at Harper Adams University and is in her second year.

Farming, she said, has been her passion from an early age, and she enjoys the day-to-day work and variety that it brings.  

“I’ve been brought up on the farm and have always helped with anything that needed doing alongside my mum and dad,” she said.

“It’s in my blood and something I really enjoy doing. It’s been my passion from the start and I really enjoy being with the livestock and ensure they’re in good health.

“Being outdoors is great and I love the machinery work too. It’s the variety and no day is the same.”  

As a woman in the industry, Davies said she believes that women today have the opportunity to pursue their dreams within the industry and that it is important for women to have an equal opportunity in the agriculture sector.  

“Now is a good time for women to have a career in farming and I would encourage anyone to do so if that’s what they want to do,” she said.

“Women have a different perception about farming to men. We share our ideas with each other and work alongside each other.

“The opportunities for women now are great. We can do the same as men can do. There has been an increase in women playing an active role on the farm and are we are getting appreciated more.  

“Women are being taken more seriously. From our point of view and talking to my friends at college, I feel the imbalance has been addressed, however, for the future of farming to prevail, both men and women need to unify and recognise that we are equal.” 


Davies is determined to breed good quality sheep that produce a high-end product for the market, but high cost of production and trying to make a profit for the business can be a challenge, she said.

“I try to ensure we breed stock that are performing to their highest capabilities and that they can rear lambs as cheaply as possible,” she said.

“We also make sure that our grasslands are kept in really good condition so that we get the best out of the grass and produce meat from the grassland and costs are kept low and we have higher profits.

With lambing starting on the farm beginning of March, Davies has a busy time ahead and must regularly check the sheep and make sure the bedding is kept fresh for the livestock. 

Pantygamddwr farm

“The cows are also in at the moment so we keep the sheds clean and tidy and make sure they’re kept in tip top condition too,” she said.

“It’s a big challenge juggling college assignments and then keeping up with jobs here on the farm. We have to be efficient and keep on top of everything, but girl power all the way and we’re working well as a team.”

Women and farming have an important role to play, Davies said, adding that she has been “very lucky” that her family and friends have been very supportive through the years.

“Farming is such an important sector. It’s the backbone of our rural communities, it provides jobs and keeps our culture alive,” she said.

“I am concerned about what the future might hold for farming and I want to make sure we have a sector for our women in the future – food production needs both.”