Farmer Focus: NFU involvement helps understand industry

After two years as county chairman for Monmouthshire NFU, I have handed responsibility to my vice-chairman Ian Williams.

I have enjoyed the term in office, which has been made much easier by the excellent NFU Cymru staff and the support of the various group secretaries in the county.

I would urge anyone to get involved in the NFU, as you get a much better understanding of the industry and the job that the union does in defending it against other organisations, and educating the politicians.

See also: Read more from the Livestock Farmer Focus writers

The Goat Veterinary Society held an interesting conference in Chepstow recently, the highlight was a recorded presentation from a vet in New Zealand, who used Skype to present a question and answer session afterwards.

She was doing research into lameness in goats, measuring foot and horn growth and how frequency of foot-trimming influences leg posture using X-rays and locomotion scoring.

Initial findings show kids need hoof-trimming by five-months-old and frequency of adult hoof-trimming needs to be less than the six months we practice.

Goats we have selected for AI have been sponged and a vet from another practice, trained in goat AI, will inseminate them next week using French sires.

France has a much larger, more well established dairy goat industry and has operated a progeny-testing scheme for male goats for many years.

The bucks have estimated breeding values for milk production, milk quality and conformation, with an overall index.

We have sold this year’s crop of Welsh Black store cattle, after a clear TB test and have started strip grazing the cows on some roots as the grass growth finally slows.

I am always reluctant to say too much about the weather in this column, but it has been a superb autumn, with dry conditions to finish lots of jobs.

The Monmouthshire hounds had a few weeks off with a cough, during their absence we had several visiting packs of hounds.

It was interesting to see how they coped crossing our country, with small fields and thick hedgerows, fortunately our hounds were fit by the opening meet at the end of October.

Gary and Jess Yeomans run a herd of 700 milking goats across 100ha, which supplies a local cheese factory. They also own a small pedigree Welsh Black suckler herd to graze permanent pasture.