Farmer Focus: Uncertainty forces flock decrease

It’s that time of year when we finally feel we are catching up with the never-ending list of things to do and getting back to our routine.

I have been fortunate to take on a local young farmer who now works with us three to four days a week. He has a tremendous work ethic and a great eye for stock.

He has not had much experience with the IT and recording aspect, but all that can be learned. What is of most importance is his ability to run and maintain a healthy and thriving flock.

This has allowed me time to take stock and assess which direction the business should follow and what is best for the sustainability and profitability of our farming enterprise.

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The suckler herd is performing well within our business, helped by the direct route to market through our craft butchery business. By specialising in dry-aged products we can not only add value, but ensure repeat custom.

Flock size reduced

The sheep flock has been reduced for this tupping season. With such uncertainty within the sector we took the opportunity to cut flock size by selling our 300 pedigree Lleyn ewes.

They were sold to a farmer with a keen interest in Lleyns who is looking to increase his flock. We have also taken this opportunity to scrutinise the performance of every ewe and cull accordingly.

It will be interesting to see if there is a difference in our scanning results come January. The ewes are all looking extremely well, and are all at their desired body condition score. Having fewer animals has ensured all ewes have been managed correctly in the run-up to tupping.

Butchery refurbishment

Our craft butchery was refurbished in six long days. It was a credit to the team of local tradesmen that is was done on time.

The first week has been promising and we have seen many new customers. All of these customers have been attracted by the farm-to-fork story and put great emphasis on provenance.

I am looking forward to the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Winter Fair at the end of the month. It is a fantastic event that showcases the fantastic stock and stockmanship British farming has to offer.

It is a very special year for our family as my grandfather has been asked to open the event. It is a great honour for him and we will all be there to support.

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.