CAP REFORM has changed the mindset of hill producers and rekindled interest in alternative income generating enterprises, believes ADAS researcher Barbara McLean.

“In future money must come from the marketplace. This means producing what buyers want and trying to add value to products such as wool, which currently represents as little as 5% of flock income in the UK,” said Dr McLean.

Conditions meant Welsh hill producers could not run fine wool sheep like Merinos, but cross breeding work at Pwllpeiran had demonstrated wool quality and value could be improved. There was also the option of using the hardy Bowmont breed, developed in Scotland by crossing the Shetland with the Australian Saxon Merino.

“We have now established a nucleus flock of 35 ewes and two rams which will be assessed for hardiness, carcass quality and wool quality. The flock will be scrapie genotyped and its economics evaluated. “In addition, markets for the wool and skins will be investigated.”