Farmer Focus: Lack of growth sees return to concentrates

Although we’ve had very little snow in West Wales, the cold has most definitely had an impact. We usually have covers of 2,200–2,400kg DM/ha at turn out, but not this year.

I cannot tell you what they are as have not been brave enough to measure. Our fields resemble the top of a billiard table.

Fortunately, we have reduced numbers this year, allowing us to house ewes and lambs for a couple of extra days. We have had to feed concentrate post-turnout for the first time since 2014. 

The lack of grass aside, lambing is going to plan. We are producing strong lambs and the ewes are doing their job.

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The indoor lambing nucleus flock is excelling and the standard of lambs, although early days, is very exciting. The outdoor lambing commercial flock of Welsh-cross, Highlander-cross  and Aberfield-cross are performing well in the circumstances.

For the second year running we have not fed singles concentrates, but are seeing big lambs born that need assistance. We didn’t anticipate this problem again this year, as ewes are not overfat and have had to work extremely hard.

It is a pleasure to see stock thriving, and it is a credit to our shepherd, Iwan, for all his work and dedication.

South Wales was hit hard during the snow, and the street where the shop is located saw 3ft drifts.

We opened during the worst of the weather when both supermarkets in the street had no meat to offer their customers.

It was great to see so many unfamiliar faces at this time. Many would openly say they had not visited a butcher shop since their childhood.

Many have returned and said that they forgot how good meat could taste, which is very pleasing.

The “never give up attitude” is held by all farmers. We do not have the luxury of posting a sign or social media post saying “closed due to inclement weather”.

Let’s hope the weather improves and we all have a successful spring.

Shaun Hall Jones and his father Barrie farm 1,000 ewes, including an Abermax nucleus flock, and 40 Welsh Black cattle across 364ha near Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire. New projects include a farm butchery business and a shop in Cardiff.