Farmer Focus: Labour issues make for a tricky summer

Let me first introduce myself. I’m Shaun, a sheep and beef farmer from west Wales.

I farm 1,000 breeding ewes and cattle in partnership with my father, Barrie. I also have a butchery and online butchery business.

The past months have proved increasingly difficult, with the added workload that summer time brings on the farm and a new butchery business to develop.

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers

It has resulted in us looking to take on a staff member to oversee the day-to-day running of the farm.

Staffing headaches

It hasn’t been easy. We have some great guys that help out a day or two a week, but getting someone to commit and take ownership of the stock and grassland management isn’t easy.

I think this is a reflection of the current situation the farming industry finds itself in. How can we encourage young, able and enthusiastic people into our industry in such uncertain times?  

First rams sold

Although there is an increased workload, it is also a very rewarding time of year. We have recently sold our first crop of Abermax yearling rams through Innovis.

We are now in our second year of the breeding partnership and have been pleased with the progress of the flock. It is pleasing to see gains being made and stock reacting well to a forage-based system.

This year’s weaning weights and daily liveweight gains have been very pleasing, although they are slightly down on last year. However, this is compensated for by our scanning and weaning percentage increase.

The other aspect of the business is still in its infancy. I have recently taken on a butchery in Cardiff and will be rebranding and renovating in the coming weeks.

My ambition for the shop is to promote not only our produce, but that of the farming community. It is vital to strengthen the relationship between countryside and city.

Cardiff engages with farmers

We have had a very pleasing response and the people of Cardiff have been supportive and enthusiastic to learn more about our produce.

I find the interaction with customers very rewarding and take great pleasure in explaining the provenance of our produce.

There are many uncertainties within the farming industry at the moment, and we will be required to evolve to meet the expectations of consumers and those chosen to lead us.

The one overriding aspect that should remain at the forefront for all stakeholders is the safeguarding of the high-quality produce that British farming ensures.

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.