“Eye opener” prompts on-farm changes for HCC sponsored Rhodri

A mid-Wales farmer is already implementing progressive on-farm changes advocated at a key UK conference that he attended as a Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) sponsored delegate.

Rhodri Lloyd Williams, of Moelgolomen Farm, Talybont, successfully applied for a HCC advertised farmer sponsorship to cover all costs of attending the biennial UK Sheep Breeders Round Table Conference at Eastwood Hall, Eastwood, Nottingham.

He said it was a “real eye opener.”

“It was an opportunity to see what’s out there. I was definitely inspired and discovered there are considerable opportunities for breeders. For instance, it was interesting to hear two experts discuss rotational grazing, resting the grass so it will lead to fresher grass in the spring and produce a knock-on effect in the summer. I implemented it at home on return from the conference.”

“And one speaker at the conference explained, using a growth-weight-gain graph for beef producers, that, after 18 months, weight gain was minimal. It would be interesting to see if the pattern was similar for lambs,” said Rhodri.

Rhodri farms 750 ewes and 25 suckler Welsh Black cattle and he was fascinated to hear a panel of specialists at the HCC co-sponsored event define the benefits of performance recording. “I really enjoyed the debate. Contributors said that performance recording in the hills had a massive trickle down effect on whole sheep industry and was worth around £10m annually in the UK.

“In simplistic terms, every performance recorded animal is worth around £100 to industry. It’s worth supporting performance recording because of the return on investment. It’s important that work continues to show the financial benefits of performance recording to producers.”

“We heard about the Norwegian system, as well as the Irish system which is potentially more applicable to us in Wales. We need a sustainable solution here in Wales and I was left wondering if financial support or incentives could be an option?”

Rhodri also attended debates on genetics and DNA markers and fertility testing of rams. “This was interesting as we don’t do it ourselves and it’s something we should be doing - but don’t have the infrastructure or expertise to do it.”

He said the sponsorship provided an opportunity to consider business developments that he would probably not have had otherwise. “I probably would not have attended if it wasn’t for the HCC scholarship support as it was hard to justify without it - but it proved to be a real “eye opener.”