The month of May means that the Young Farmer Rally’s are soon to be in full swing. It’s Carmarthenshire’s turn tomorrow (May 4th) with the Rally being held at Nantyci Showground near Carmarthen. It’ll be a day of mixed emotions for me this year, as this will be my last Rally and the last big event for me as a member of the Young Farmers – proof that I am getting older! I’ve had some amazing experiences over the years and this is all thanks to the opportunities that the movement has given me.
The stock judging competitions have already taken place in order to lessen the load during the day of the actual Rally. Three evenings of competitions were recently held with the adjudicating of the Welsh Cobs at Coedweddus Farm, Llangadog; the adjudicating of the Welsh Black Cattle at Tynwaun Farm, Gwynfe; and then the adjudicating of the Badger sheep at Llandovery Mart.
Here’s hoping now for a sunny, dry day tomorrow. I’ll let you all know how it goes next week!
Having recently had the coldest March in over fifty years, the changing climate is having a terrible effect on us farmers. The average temperature in Britain in March was about 2.5 degrees, and, according to the experts, this cold spell will last until the middle of April.
We’ve complained enough whilst lambing at home at Maesteilo about the lack of grass and the weather, but our situation here in the south is nothing compared to the situation of some farmers that have endured terribly because of the recent heavy snowfall. It has been estimated that over 25,000 animals have died due to this in Great Britain so far.
Alun Davies, the Minister for Natural Resources and Food in the Assembly has announced the relaxation of laws that prevent farmers burying their livestock on their land, and they can now do so for a fortnight in seven counties across Wales. But it has to be proven that vehicles were unable to reach the farm.
Governments in both Scotland and Northern Ireland have managed to get financial support for those farmers that have lost animals in the recent heavy snowfall, with farmers in Scotland receiving £500,000 and farmers in Northern Ireland receiving 5 million pounds.
Despite this, there is no sign of any financial support for Wales as things stand, and this in a year where costs are higher than normal and the farmers in the less favoured areas seeing a dramatic drop without their Tir Mynydd cheque.
We’re now about three quarters of the way through the lambing season at Maesteilo. But, although we have plenty of lambs, unfortunately we’re lacking in grass! The grass ensures that the sheep continue to provide plenty of milk to rear their lambs in the best but cheapest possible way. This of course then saves the cost of having to buy concentrates to compensate which is of course an extra expense.
There have been far too many losses across the country this year because of the Schmallenberg virus. I’ve personally lost a lamb at Maesteilo because of Schmallenberg and it was a heartbreaking experience. The lamb was born alive but there was not hope for it. It wasn’t able to feed from its mother, stand up on its own nor walk nor run like the other lambs, and therefore we had to put it to sleep.
For some, I’m sure that this seems cruel, but it was the best option for the lamb in the long run. Sometimes you just have to be cruel to be kind.
Many other farmers have had to face far worse experiences than we have had at Maesteilo. Far too many have lost not only hundreds of lambs, but also some of their ewes because of difficult births. Some cattle and goat farmers are also finding it hard as they lose animals because of the virus.
Cross fingers that a vaccine will be available in the future to help protect our animals from this terrible virus.
With my monthly diary ‘Mis Maesteilo’ having come to an end on the Ffermio programme, I’m back online!
As many of you already know, my brother Eirian and his girlfriend, Jasmine had a little boy just before Christmas called Osian. They’ve recently returned from New Zealand to live in Wales for the time being and so there are now 3 generations under the same roof at Maesteilo.
The timing of their return couldn’t have been better with it of course being lambing season. We were therefore really glad to see Eirian back so that he could help out on the farm at this busy time! But the long hours are always worth it when we get to see the lambs out enjoying in the fields with their mothers, the ewes, keeping a close eye on them.
And it’s a similar situation at Maesteilo as Mamgu, Tad-cu and Anti Meinir get to enjoy the new resident of Maesteilo as Osian settles in to life on the farm in Wales.
509 of the 665 (76%) Welsh cobs, ponies of cob-type and Welsh Part-breds offered on the Brightwells Autumn Cob Sale at the Royal Welsh Showground on October 19, 20 and 21 sold for a Sale total of £459,160 averaging £908 which is the highest average for the last five years boosted by the inclusion of 43 Welsh cobs from the famous Thorneyside Stud which realised a staggering £151,000 i.e. an average of £3,511. Without the inclusion of the Thorneyside consignment the average figure was £668 which is only slightly down on last year.
61 animals were sold for export led by 21 to Germany, 15 to Sweden, 7 each to Holland, Denmark and France and one each to Italy, Finland, Austria and Norway.
The atmosphere during the selling of the Thorneyside consignment was electric with much whistling and whooping enhanced by the renderings of the London Pearly Kings and Queens brought down specially for the occasion. The whole event was another successful brainchild of Brightwells Joint Managing Director Terry Court to add to his many previous lifetime successes.
Top of the Sale at £22,000 was the dun two-year-old colt Thorneyside Golden Boy sired by the dun Thorneyside Survivor who has won so many ridden classes for Debbie Baker of Pontyates. His g-dam Stormydown Dilys, bred by John and Sooraya Cooke, was brought back into the Stud twenty years ago since she had two Thorneyside parents. Golden Boy was bought by harness expert Miss Wenham of West Sussex. The previous Brightwells section D Autumn Sale records were set up by the females Tardebigge Estelle at £17,000 in 2005 and Pennal Calon Mai at £14,500 in 2006; the previous stallion record of £11,000 for Synod Robert Black having held for 12 years.
A few minutes previously the record was already broken when the four-year-old chestnut stallion Thorneyside Welsh Magic sold for £20,000 to Eirian Emanuel of Ponthenri, Llanelli who is a big “Thorneyside” fan having been very successful with his well-known Thorneyside The Real McCoy. Welsh Magic won his class of 22 entries at the 2010 Royal Welsh Show and was also champion at Glanusk that year.
The next record to go was that for foals when the chestnut colt Thorneyside Royal Command was absolutely stunning and sold for £16,000 to Mark Swistun of Llanmorlais, Gower. Royal Command is sired by Thorneyside The Saracen winner of many championships this year, produced by Justin Walters of Tredegar. The previous foal records were again for fillies, Abergavenny Princess Yasmin at £12,000 in 2008 and Cascob Powys Princess at £11,000 in 2006 with Haighmoor Dewi Sant being top colt at £5,400 in 2008. Mark Swistun also bought the bay filly foal Thorneyside Diamond Jubilee for £5,000; she is sired by the 1992 Royal Welsh champion Thorneyside Flyer who is now 27 years old. John, Bev and Jonathan Batt of Abergavenny bought Royal Command’s mother the six-year-old Thorneyside Debutante for £6,000; if she had been offered after her outstanding son, no doubt she would have cost a lot more!
Another chestnut four-year-old stallion Thorneyside Crusader sold for £8,000 to John Townsend of Chesfield, Kent; top showman Gareth Andrew of Berriew, Welshpool paid £7,000 for the Thorneyside Flyer fourteen-year-old daughter Thorneyside First Lady and Mrs Groom of Maidenhead (later purchaser of the top section C) paid the same figure for the black yearling colt Thorneyside The Highwayman. Two other very promising chestnut colts were the three-year-old Thorneyside It’s Magic sold to Mrs Roberts of Wrexham for £6,000 and the yearling Thorneyside True Magic sold to Lee and Jack Bowerman of Ebbw Vale for £5,500.
Outside the Thorneyside consignment the next section D toppers at £5,000 were chestnuts, Barry White’s ten-year-old stallion Felinmor Distinction from the New Forest and Cerdin and Doreen Jones’ filly foal Synod Rosie’s Scarlet Ribbons from Talgarreg, Llandusul. Distinction was top-priced colt foal when bought from his breeders Keith and Llinos Spenser of Aberystwyth on these Sales and won at the Royal Welsh in 2008 and also many championships under saddle; he was bought by Mr Cumberland of Samuels Close Farm, Ispworth.
Cerdin and Doreen Jones are no strangers when it comes to Sale-topping foals, their palomino cob filly Synod Red and Gold sold for £5,200 in 2010 and of 15 top section C foals from 1992 to 2007, Synod fillies accounted for 11 of them! This time they had two elegant cob fillies Synod Rosie’s Scarlet Ribbons and the palomino Synod Rose Dixie Chick; Dr Etienne and Catherine Stevens of the Guinel Stud, France bought them both for £5,000 and £4,000.
As already stated, Mrs Groom was also the purchaser of the top section C at £6,500, this was Steve Davies’ charming aptly-named palomino filly foal Taincwm X Factor sired by Calvin Williams’ Caerneuadd Hywel who was also sire of another palomino filly foal Henfenyw Lucky Girl, also purchased by Mrs Groom. Next to Synod Relegance which sold for £11,000 in 2001, X Factor is the second-highest priced section C foal in 48 years of these Sales.
Notwithstanding her 16 years, the beautiful bay mare Parvadean Rosina sold for £5,000 to O M Davies and Son of the Tynwydd Stud, Beaumaris; her dam Synod Rhiannon is sister to this year’s Royal Welsh champion and South of England HOYS Cuddy qualifier Synod Ringlet’s Last. Rhian James of Pontyates, who has had considerable successes this year showing her section A’s, paid £2,200 for the four-year-old ridden mare Fencers Sweet Caroline. Two very promising yearling colts which could end up being influential overseas sires were the black roan son of Parvadean Recharge named Bairdmoor Pegasus which sold to Ilona Pykalainen of Finland for £1,800 and Veronica Layton’s Caebryn Harri QC, full-brother to the Royal Welsh youngstock champion Caebryn Endeavour, sold to the Chopin Stud, Denmark for £1,700. The eye-catching chestnut filly foal Popsters Dixie Chick was section C champion at the Glamorgan WPCA Foal Show the previous week and was bought for £1,400 by Tomos Howatson of Llansannan owner of this year’s Royal Welsh section A youngstock champion; he also bought the three-year-old section D filly Dunaire Dancing Angel for £4,200 and now has champions in three Welsh sections.
Welsh part-breds were sold on the Friday with a top price of £3,000 for the ridden five-year-old piebald mare Blaenmorlais My Lady sold to Mrs Ellerton of Whitchurch, Shropshire. A black filly foal Llanidan Pearly Queen by the Welsh cob stallion Gwenllan Bossy out of a Hackney mare sold for £2,300 to Mrs Lowe of Bracknell.
The month of May means that the Young Farmer Rally’s are soon to be in full swing. It’s Carmarthenshire’s turn tomorrow (May 4th) with the
Ffermio is taking a break for a few weeks, but will be back on S4C on Monday June 3rd.