Female dairy farmer struggles to find workwear to fit women

Female Dairy Farmer Struggles To Find Workwear To Fit Women
A young female dairy farmer said she could actually fit her feet into over-sized calving gloves as she struggles to find outdoor workwear that isn't designed for six-feet tall men.
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Louise Walsh

A young female dairy farmer said she could actually fit her feet into over-sized calving gloves as she struggles to find outdoor workwear that isn't designed for six-feet tall men.

Laura Hannon, who gave up her nursing career to tend to the family's 162 hectare holding in Co Meath, feels swamped in clothes that are at least two sizes bigger than her five-foot, two-inch body.


The 28-year-old, who farms 320 cows and 80 heifers in Kiltale, would love to "feel comfortable and look good" while out for long hours in all weathers.

"Most farm work wear is designed for a six-foot tall man, so even my dad, who is smaller than that, would struggle to find trousers a lot shorter." said Laura, who recently won an accolade at the National Dairy Awards for her discussion group that she set up with other female farmers.

"A man can walk into the likes of Aldi, Lidl or Woodies and pick up trousers for farm work, but there is nothing for women.

"Most designers, I think, don't see potential sales from making a women's line, but the trousers that I get are about a foot longer than what I need," she laughed.


"I manage to get ones with buttons on the bottom. I've tried to stitch up the bottoms, but that is not suitable for farm work because I keep catching my foot in them, so they don't last.

"I've four pairs of trousers that I bought in Sweden and I actually approached the company to see if they would sell them here because they're the only ones that I ever managed to buy that are designed for women and have the stretch and durability for working on a farm and being active.

"And it is not just farming. There are more women taking up careers in plumbing and construction and other fields that need outdoor workwear.

Laura Hannon farms 320 cows and 80 heifers in Kiltale.

"We need trousers that are heavy duty, have more pockets than normal trousers, and have a stretch in them for climbing over gates, chasing after cows and going on grass walks.

"You can throw on a pair of jeans but you don't have the stretch in them, you can put on a pair of tracksuit bottoms, but you'd be absolutely melting in them after ten minutes or soaked to the skin in the rain."

But it is not only trousers that Laura is finding hard to find sizes to fit.

"I wear wellies for everything and go through two pairs a year. I might put on a pair of trainers if the grass is very dry, and it is a very dry day, but I generally wear wellies with steel caps because I'm always afraid of calves standing on my toes.


"They are not the easiest to get in my size. Every time I need new wellies, I ring the local agricultural shop and ask them if they have a size five in stock. Most farm shops wouldn't keep women's sizes in steel capped wellies, so I'll ring them, and they'll order in for me or they might have bought two pairs the last time I ordered, so they might have one in reserve for me."

There were 303 calves born on the farm this year and even in calving, Laura struggles with work gear.

"We use gloves for calving and artificial insemination. They come in one size that fits all, but it is really one size that fits all men,


"There are no gloves designed for smaller hands, so I reckon they fit my feet better, or I could definitely fit my two hands into the one glove.

"It makes the job that little bit harder because you're trying to feel inside a cow when they are calving and that's hard when you feel like you're wearing a pair of mittens that are just floating on you."

She added: "I've got advice to wear a second pair of gloves like small milking gloves over them, but that makes it harder to actually feel anything inside a cow and some people have advised me to secure the glove on my hand with a bobbin but I shouldn't have to do that because it shouldn't be so hard to get a pair of small gloves.

"I think the milking gloves come in small sizes because they are used in other areas, such as laboratories, where there are more females employed.

"I wouldn't have the first idea where to start in terms of designing a clothing line, but there is a market for anyone that has.

" It's nice to have nice clothes on a farm. Most people go into work, and they want to look well and presentable. Everyone sees me on the farm and it is nice to have a set of clothes that look well on you and not ones that are two times too big and uncomfortable to wear."

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