A voice of women farmers in the rural environment

After last March 8, a special day for our female livestock farmers, we want to get to know and give voice to one of our clients, Lourdes Perona.

Livestock woman's day

Lourdes is a 34-year-old woman, mother, and livestock farmer from Cortijo El Hoyo. She studied Agricultural Technical Engineering, specializing in Agricultural and Livestock Farms, at the University of Seville.

Since 2011, she has been a professional and passionate livestock farmer in the Sierra de Valdepeñas de Jaén, in the province of Jaén. As she tells us, she lives with her family surrounded by nature, fulfilling the dream she had since she was a child.

Why did you choose this profession and why organic livestock?

My vocation for livestock farming has been with me since I was a child when I used to get lost among lambs and sheep while the hours passed on weekends and holidays. When I returned to the village, it was a drama for me, so I decided to move my home to the mountains as soon as I had the opportunity and dedicate myself professionally to what I was so passionate about. But livestock farming didn’t just come to me out of nowhere; it came to me through inheritance from my father, who was a livestock farmer.

The operation has been in my maternal great-grandfather’s time until it came into my hands, and I hope it will eventually reach my daughters’ hands. When I think about why I am passionate about the countryside, I cannot help but talk about my father, the person who always advised me to follow this path, and I have no regrets.

As for the organic mode, I think we must go hand in hand because it is the only way to achieve sustainability, maintain, and respect biodiversity. This way of thinking came to me while studying in Seville. There I had to buy from supermarkets without knowing the origin of the food, and I learned that it was essential to know its traceability, and that food obtained naturally has an unparalleled quality advantage. I had the means and the knowledge to produce organically, so I said to myself, why not?

Tell us firsthand what it’s like to be a female livestock farmer.

In rural areas, especially in agriculture and livestock farming, there is still a long way to go in terms of equality. Sometimes I have experienced very different treatment, and it has taken me twice as much effort to prove my professional worth. But fortunately, all this is changing. The new generations have very different ideas, with a much more open mind and fewer prejudices, so I foresee a much brighter future for those who are yet to come.

We see that your daughters follow you in many of your tasks. How do you see generational change in the countryside, especially for women?

I foresee that it will become increasingly easier for future generations because the ideas that a woman cannot dedicate herself to the countryside are being left behind. Fortunately, the presence of women in rural areas is increasing, and they set an example for future female livestock farmers and farmers. Our future generations will be even better than us because we are fighting to pave the way for them.

Personally, I cannot help but feel proud to see that my daughters want to take the same path I did, and I intend to support them in everything if they continue to maintain that idea later on.

Would you encourage other women who are hesitant to start in this profession? If so, why?

Of course, I would encourage other women to start in this wonderful profession. Because as my father used to tell me, there is no physical or psychological impediment for a woman not to be able to do exactly the same as a man with the same characteristics.

Agriculture and livestock farming encompass so many fields that there is room for everyone; in fact, there is plenty of space, and many times we miss colleagues in this profession, so, girls, if you are reading this, don’t think twice about it!

Do you notice evolution in livestock farming? (both socially and technologically)

In terms of social aspects, we have made quite a bit of progress, although women who manage their own operation are still scarce.

As for technology, we are starting to take great strides; real-time geolocation of animals, programmed systems to feed them, wirelessly operated surveillance cameras… The countryside has always been the great forgotten in terms of research, but these advances make a big difference. For example, right now I am in the high mountains, connected to the internet via satellite, monitoring my sheep in the middle of the night, who would have thought years ago that this would be possible?

How has the incorporation of GPS into your animals affected your work?

As I mentioned before, some colleagues have not made the path easy for me. I have suffered breakages of fences and some animal thefts, with the idea that I would “get tired” and leave. The incorporation of GPS collars for livestock has not only served as a deterrent measure against possible theft but also allows me to check at any time that my sheep are sleeping peacefully all night in the same place, with evidence in the application in case any wandering animal or person disturbs them, to remedy it quickly if necessary.

With this tool, I have gained in peace of mind and time, since while I observe through the app that they are calm. I can dedicate myself to something else instead of having to observe them on-site.

Organic sheep farming

A closing message.

To conclude, I would like to encourage anyone reading this, if their dream or desire is to work in nature, to do so. The vast majority of prejudices are unfounded, and it can be a profession that changes your life forever. The way of living oneself, raising your children, or seeing life is completely different from what can be experienced in a city. Dare to take the step because it is a sector that is currently undergoing continuous change. The future here with the advances that are being made will surely be fascinating.

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