MOVE INTO LAMBS
THE Winter Fair has become an important date in the calendar of the Wales Federation of Young Farmers Clubs. Next week there will be the usual stock judging competitions and 15 members have entered the now-traditional calf rearing class. This NatWest Bank sponsored event challenges young farmers to buy a calf with fatstock show potential, rear it, and parade it in the main ring immediately after the judging of the supreme cattle championship.
It is a measure of the success of the competition that many ringsiders stay on to assess the potential of the next generation of livestock exhibitors, who must also present details of how they reared their calves and what it cost.
Building on strong interest in the calf class, WFYFC has used sponsorship from Ritchey Tagg to launch a similar competition for prime lambs at the 1999 Winter Fair. Members have to produce a pair of lambs that match current market specifications, provide costings, and demonstrate that they used acceptable animal welfare and husbandry practices.
Entrants first selected five lambs. These were inspected and tagged on farms. Immediately before the Winter Fair competitors selected the best matched pair for exhibiting in the same way as sheep in other classes at the event.
Two of the 16 entries are from sisters Delyth and Catrin Jones, Tirlan, Brechfa, Carmarthenshire. Both are very keen to win for the Llanllwni Club, their parents Eric and Dilys and for themselves, so sibling affection will be shelved for a day.
Delyth, 24, is a Welsh Institute of Rural Studies graduate who is now a Welsh Office Agriculture Department field officer based at Lampeter. She bought her Welsh Mountain competition lambs at a sale in Llanybyther.
Her sister is a year younger. Since finishing her HND at Aberystwyth Catrin has worked with the 750 breeding sheep and 30 suckler cows on the home farm. Her Speckled Face lambs were bought from her parents flock. Both sets of lambs have spent some time on oilseed rape.
"As well as being an important shop window for livestock farming, the Winter Fair is a mixture of social event and serious competitions, from which young farmers can get great benefit," says Delyth Jones.