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Farming

NFU Mutual Tudy Farms Award

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NFU Mutual Tidy Farm Award: 2019's winner Gareth Davies with Grandson Aron Davies

THE NFU MUTUAL Tidy Farm Awards will return to Wales for a second year, after a successful launch in 2019. Entries for this year’s awards opened this month and close in March, promoting farm safety and offering cash prizes to farmers who have addressed common hazards on their farm.
The winner of Wales’ tidiest farm will be awarded £1,000, with £500 and £250 awarded to the second and third place entries. Farmers can nominate themselves, or local people can nominate a farm in their area. Family members and friends can also make nominations.
Entries will be judged on eight submitted photographs which show how common farm hazards have been addressed to reduce the risk of an accident.
The photos should show how the farmer:
• Separates their farm and home
• Stores their vehicles, machinery and equipment
• Uses signs and mark routes for delivery
• Fences off dangerous areas
• Minimises the risks of slips, trips and falls
Details of the award and how to apply are on a dedicated page on NFU Mutual’s website: www.nfumutual.co.uk/tidyfarmawards
Entries close on the March 23 and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony taking place at the Royal Welsh Show in July.
The award judges are Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation; Gwyn Barlow, NFU Mutual Manager for Wales; Dan Killingbeck, Sales Consultant at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Wales; Hedd Pugh, Rural Affairs Board Chairman for NFU Cymru.
The initiative is being supported by NFU Cymru, NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited, the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity set up by NFU Mutual to help farmers work safely.
“The Tidy Farm Awards were set up to recognise farmers who have really gone the extra mile to ensure a safe, tidy and healthy working environment,” said Gwyn Barlow, NFU Mutual Manager for Wales.
“After the competition saw a positive response in 2019, we were keen to re-run the event in 2020 and refresh these vital messages. This year, we’ve extended the number of pictures we will consider per entry from four to eight, giving farmers the best opportunity to showcase what can be done to make farms safer.
“As a mutual insurer which is closely connected with many farms in Wales, we are all too aware of the heartbreak farm accidents cause. Because most farms are homes as well as a workplace, we’re running this award scheme as a reminder that safety should be front of mind for the whole farming family.”
Stephanie Berkeley, who manages the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “Farming and food production play a crucial role in the life and economy of Wales, but every year we have to reluctantly report that agriculture still has the poorest safety record of any occupation here.
Six farm workers lost their lives on Welsh farms in 2018/2019, showing no improvement from the six fatalities in 2017/18. But even one death will always be one too many. All too often, these life-changing and life-ending accidents are avoidable. We know there are farms out there operating safely and efficiently and it’s time to celebrate them and reward those who have created a safe and tidy farm. The Foundation is proud to work with the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and help in their efforts to raise awareness of farm safety and help improve the health and safety of the local farming community.”

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Farming

Alpaca settle in on Welsh hills

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A HERD of alpaca at Aberystwyth University’s upland research centre welcomed two new arrivals during the Covid-19 lockdown.
One male and one female baby alpaca, known as cria, were born at the Pwllpeiran Upland Research Platform and are settling down to life in the Cambrian Mountains.
They are the first cria to be born on the University’s land and to be registered under the centre’s new stud prefix ‘Peiran’.
Peiran Champagne and Peiran Cosmopolitan join a small herd of alpacas who arrived at Pwllpeiran in October 2019 as part of a new research project.
Scientists want to see whether the South American alpaca is suited to life in the Welsh hills and could provide new opportunities for uplands farming.
These long-necked animals, similar to the llama, are renowned for the quality of their fibre (wool) and are happy to feed on low quality grasses which are often snubbed by sheep.
The research project is being led by Dr Mariecia Fraser at the Pwllpeiran Upland Research Centre, which is part of the University’s Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS).
“These are changing times for Welsh upland farming, with the next round of support payments expected to push for a shift away from primary agricultural production towards nature conservation and carbon reduction. In setting up a research herd of alpacas at Pwllpeiran, we want to test whether the alpaca could offer hill farmers a viable alternative to sheep.
“As well as producing high quality fibre, camelids like alpacas have evolved adaptations to enable them to live off poor quality tussock grasses in the Andes, and are happy to tuck into invasive grasses such as Molinia. These forages grow in abundance on the Welsh uplands but tend to be shunned by native sheep. We’ll be looking at the impact of their grazing and how well they could fit in to traditional patterns of farming here,” said Dr Fraser.
The establishment of the initial research herd is being funded by the Joy Welch Educational Charitable Trust, which was set up by the Aberystwyth alumna in 1988.

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Farming

Beef calf registrations increase

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NEW figures released by the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) suggests that the number of beef calves registered in Wales in the first five months of 2020 is the highest it’s been for several years.
Across Britain there has been an overall rise of 1.2% in calves – both dairy and beef – registered between January and May 2020, compared to the same period last year. In Wales the figure is higher, with an increase of 3.1%.
According to analysis by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) the statistics reflect a range of factors, including a trend of producing more cross-bred calves from the dairy herd.
Some of the beef breeds and cross breeds showing the biggest increases in terms of calf registrations in Wales include the Aberdeen Angus (up 11.7%) and Hereford (up 4.8%), whilst both Charolais and British Blue registrations are up just over 4%.
The 2020 figures are a contrast to the last five years, where BCMS calf registration data has indicated a flat picture in the Welsh beef registrations.
HCC market analyst Glesni Phillips said, “These figures could show a positive sign for the future of the beef industry in Wales, and reflect broader trends in both the beef and dairy sectors.
“This comes despite the beef sector being hit by uncertainty in recent times. A combination of market conditions led to low farm-gate prices last year, and demand fluctuated widely in the early stages of the Coronavirus lockdown as pubs and restaurants closed their doors.
“However, we’ve seen encouraging consumption figures throughout Britain in the second half of the spring, with great support from consumers for home-produced beef, with its high standards of welfare and environmental sustainability.”
One high-profile new entrant into the beef sector is international rugby referee Nigel Owens MBE, who has recently started his own ‘Mairwen’ herd of Hereford cattle in Carmarthenshire.
“Having worked at Wern Farm Drefach when I was younger it had always been a dream of mine to keep my own herd,” said Nigel, who has built up to around 30 cattle so far on a 116-acre holding, “and if anything the lockdown has given the chance to get things up and running more quickly, as we’ve been able to get on with fencing, hedge-laying and developing our soil and pasture.”
Nigel added, “Each breed has its supporters, but from an early age I recall visiting my uncle and aunt’s farm, Pentwyn in Llannon, who had a Hereford bull running with the dairy herd. My cousin Helen and Gwyndaf near Aberaeron who run the Creuddyn Hereford herd have also been a valuable source of advice. For me, the cattle have a calm nature and calve easily. They’ll also produce good-quality meat which is important as we develop the business in future.”

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Farming

New edition of Welsh meat ‘Bible’ launched

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HYBU Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has launched the latest edition of its ‘Little Book of Meat Facts’, the annual digest of facts, figures and trends for the nation’s lamb, beef and pork industries.
Among the key figures in this year’s edition were that Welsh red meat production was worth an estimated £690 million in 2018, compared with £677 million the previous year.
In 2019, total throughput of cattle and calves in Welsh abattoirs stood at 147,600 head, with total beef production totalling 42,900 tonnes (up from 40,000 tonnes the previous year). Throughput of sheep and lambs stood at 3.3 million head, with total sheep meat production totalling 63,400 tonnes, compared with 60,800 in 2018.
France remained the largest destination for lamb exports, but with important growth in trade with Germany which is now in a clear second place. Beef and lamb exports were mostly to Europe, although with significant trade to other markets in the Middle East, East Asia and Canada.
The Little Book also contains information on what kinds of meat British consumers are buying and from which retailers, as well as data on key industry measures such as carcase classification.
HCC Data Analyst Glesni Phillips said; “We usually launch the Little Book of Meat Facts at the Royal Welsh Show, so that farmers and other stakeholders can browse the latest statistics.
“Of course, this year that’s not possible, so we’re launching it virtually and making it available on our website.
“What all the statistics show is that, despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit and now of course the disruption of COVID-19, the red meat sector is hugely important to the Welsh economy. It’s the backbone of rural communities, and also employs large numbers in auction markets, processing and the supply chain, as well as supporting brands which are symbols of our nation’s high-quality food across the world.”

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