FUW member Lee Pritchard, 24, studied at Usk Agricultural College and now farms at Cwm Carno Farm, Rhymney, in partnership with former FUW vice president Lorraine Howells. Cwm Carno is a Hill farm rising to 1,400ft at the top of the Rhymney Valley comprising of around 400 acres of owned land and a further 150 acres of rented land. Lee keeps South Wales Mountain sheep and has recently started a flock of Brecknock hill cheviot sheep. A herd of pedigree Welsh Black Cattle are also kept.
On farm The sheep are run on the Gelligaer and Merthyr common adjoining the farm for most of the year but are brought in for winter feeding. This gives the common a well earned rest, ready for new life to enjoy it in the spring. The ewes are fed home produced silage through the winter months outside and most of them lamb outside as well. We keep around 350 ewe lambs to replace the draft ewes, which we sell at Nelson Sheep sale. We keep around 250 older ewes in the shed for lambing that are carrying cross bred lambs (Suffolk and Blue Texel crosses). The cattle also graze out on the common most of the year just south of the Brecon Beacons. I bring them in around November time when they are fed on silage. However, we have to test the cattle twice a year for TB to be allowed to do that. With the winter in full swing, it’s mid morning before any extra jobs are getting done. All the sheep were scanned and are now kept in their separate groups to be fed accordingly. The twins are fed ad lib silage and 1lb of cake daily and the singles are fed ad lib silage and feed buckets. We have had the first calf of the year and it is doing well living outside and getting hardened to the chilly conditions quite quickly. We have around 30 cows left to calve. The next job then is to put the heifers to our Welsh Black bull, Eirianfa Griff, and a couple have already been put to a recently purchased Charolais bull. All the heifers are kept in for their first winter for better growth and then the ones that aren’t needed as replacements in the herd are sold for breeding. The steers are all fattened and sold through the butcher’s shop that we own in partnership with 4 other family farms, ‘Cig Mynydd Cymru’ in Treharris. YFC It’s a busy time of year in the YFC calendar. I am an active member of Gelligaer YFC and this year chairman of the club. With our annual entertainments competition coming up, practising is top of the list. After winning the Glamorgan county drama competition last year the pressure is on to do well this year! Future I am positive about the future of farming, although we don’t always get the government support we need. All this talk of free trade deals with New Zealand is not going to help our sheep farmers and we don’t want to see our supermarket shelves flooded with foreign produce that we grow very successfully here at home. Supermarkets have a big impact on farming businesses and I think it’s important that they too support farmers and give them a fair deal. Of course, if you can’t get local or Welsh meat in your supermarket, just go and see your local butcher. They know 100 per cent where their produce is from and can even give you little tips on how to prepare the more unusual cuts. We have a great product to sell and I think the younger generation have the right attitude towards the industry to do this. With Brexit imminent we need to stay together and make the best of what we have!