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Farming

Bringing back beaver

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PLANS to reintroduce beavers to the Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve have been criticised by the local branch of the FUW.
The Montgomeryshire branch of the union described the plans as ‘a short-sighted move’.
FUW Montgomeryshire County Executive Officer Emyr Wyn Davies said: “We believe there is insufficient evidence to conclude that this animal does not pose a threat to livestock and the people living here, including bringing disease into the area. That’s just one of many concerns and we are extremely worried about this short sighted move.”
Other concerns raised by the FUW about the reintroduction of the beaver include the animals damming watercourses, which could severely impact the adjacent agriculture land; the risk of the animals escaping their enclosure and the low lying levels of the Dyfi, which are already prone to flooding through natural means – the introduction of an animal which dams watercourses by instinct is likely to exacerbate the flooding propensity for this area.
Emyr Wyn Davies continued: “We must also consider what happens if a landholding in close proximity to the proposed enclosure enters a Welsh Government agri-environment scheme to increase biodiversity habitats by tree planting and on a Welsh Government inspection is found to be in breach of contract because of vegetation damage by beaver activity – which organisation compensates the at loss landowner?
“Furthermore, will NRW have a legal obligation to monitor and clear debris entering water courses as a direct result of beavers felling timber?” Mr Wyn Davies questioned.
He added that whilst the farming community is supportive of increasing biodiversity and habitats, this must not come at the expense of people living in an area.
“Let’s also not forget the ambulances getting through to Bronglais Hospital on a stretch of road next to the proposed release site that’s only just stopped flooding whenever it rains – the alternative is a 60 mile detour!”
Reintroducing a species which has been absent for over 400 years is a challenging project from an ecological and social perspective.
Over such a timescale, the ecosystem and its biodiversity have changed considerably due to a host of natural and anthropogenic drivers. Moreover, people have forgotten that beavers were a natural ecosystem component and so species that have been absent for hundreds of years may now be considered as invaders or intruders despite being originally native.
There have been more than 200 formal beaver reintroduction projects (plus numerous unofficial releases) in more than 26 European countries.
Beavers are often referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’. They make changes to their habitats, such as digging canal systems, damming water courses, and coppicing tree and shrub species, which create diverse wetlands. In turn these wetlands can bring enormous benefits to other species, such as otters, water shrews, water voles, birds, invertebrates (especially dragonflies) and breeding fish.
However, through their activities, there’s the potential for beavers to come into conflict with land management, flood defence and fisheries interests
Additional problems arise when so-called ‘re-introducers’ release species into the wild unchecked and outside the stringent statutory procedures regarding wild animals return to UK habitats.
The reintroduction of beavers into the Scottish countryside almost came unglued after the unauthorised and unmonitored release of beavers to waterways around Tayside.
With regard to the illegal releases on the Tay, both the reintroduction process and the government’s response in Tayside (the Scottish Government declined to act) had been responsible for fuelling the conflict there.
Previous deliberate and ultimately disastrous introductions of non-native animal species into the Welsh countryside, for example mink, have also undermined the case for reintroducing once-native species.
In beavers’ case, the issue isn’t just about the reintroduction of a species – it’s about the reintroduction of an entire ecosystem that disappeared over 400 years ago..
Those who support beavers’ reintroduction say it will benefit both farmers and wildlife because beaver dams help reduce downstream flooding by holding back water and releasing the water slowly after heavy rain while reducing silt build-up.
However, research into Scottish releases revealed that among those opposed or sceptical about beavers’ reintroduction, identified that while projects listed ‘desired outcomes’, none of them considered what to do if those ‘desired outcomes’ were not achieved. The need to control beavers, their spread and absence of long-term funding for their management was also a concern.
Reintroductions involve humans. Individuals or groups carry out these projects which, in turn, have an effect on landscapes and the way they are being inhabited, used or simply perceived. In light of this, any reintroduction project is challenging. It implies looking at a specific species, its effects on the environment and people’s perceptions and acceptance of it. It also requires engaging in effective discussions which involve all the actual and potential stakeholders, without labelling them, to agree on a broad and long-term plan for the landscape.
The lack of trust between wildlife/conservation groups and farmers is the largest barrier to reintroductions’ success. In the case of the Dyfi Biosphere, the controversial Summit to Sea project drove a wedge between local farmers and projects involving species’ reintroduction which will take many years to resolve.

Farming

Pembrokeshire estate to auction pedigree Hereford Cattle

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A PEMBROKESHIRE estate is set to auction its herd of pedigree Hereford cattle. Nearly 150 animals from the Hean Castle Estate in Saundersfoot are listed for a forthcoming dispersal sale, prompted by a change in the estate’s farming business.

The Hean Herd, an iconic sight on the estate since its introduction in 2012, replaced the farm’s award-winning dairy enterprise. The estate’s Home Farm is also being offered for letting, either as a whole or in separate lots.

This announcement was made by Hean Castle Estate this week in a Facebook post, which followers described as “sad news”.

A spokesperson for the estate commented: “We announce with great sadness that, following a strategic review of the estate’s farming business, the decision has been taken to cease the in-hand business, resulting in the dispersal of the ‘Hean’ Herd.”

The dispersal sale of the herd will take place on the farm on Saturday, 24th August.

The estate said on Facebook:” It is with great sadness that, following a strategic review of the Estate’s farming business, the decision has been taken to cease the in-hand business resulting in the dispersal of the ‘Hean’ Herd.

“A catalogue with full details will be published in due course, however the Dispersal sale will be held on Saturday 24th August, on the farm, and will be conducted by Mr Jonny Dymond BSc (Hons) FLAA of Messrs Halls Holdings Ltd

“The sale will comprise the following lots:

– 64 Spring Calved Cows and Heifers, with Calves at foot.

– 16 In-calf Cows due 1st September onwards.

– 6 In-calf Heifers due 1st September onwards.

– 29 Spring ’23 born Heifers running with Bulls for Spring ’25 calving.

– 20 Spring ’23 born Heifers, free of the Bull.

– 12 Autumn ’23 born Heifers

– 5 Stock Bulls.

– 22 Embryos.

“The Stock Bulls, a small selection of promising Bull Calves and all the Females are registered, and the remaining Bull Calves notified, with the Hereford Cattle Society.

“The Herd is FAWL Farm Assured, High Health Certified by Biobest and has Gold Standard Gwardu BVD Certification, is accredited free of BVD & IBR, and is vaccinated against Leptospirosis and Blackleg. Tested Clear for TB 18/07/24.

“Online Bidding for the sale will be available via MartEye.

“For further information, please contact David Burnhill, Herd Manager. (07483) 150253.”

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Farming

National Grid issue safety plea of ‘look out, look up’ to Welsh farmers

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DURING Farm Safety Week (22 – 26 July) and the Royal Welsh Show (22 – 25 July), Welsh farmers are being urged to ‘look out, look up’, and stay safe around electrical equipment to avoid the risk of accidents.

Every year, National Grid Electricity Distribution – the electricity operator for South Wales, the Midlands and South West – is called to incidents in which farm vehicles have collided with overhead power lines. It is estimated that at least one agricultural accident involving overhead lines is reported every day in the UK.

One of these reports was at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, when a harvester collided with a high voltage conductor, leaving the overhead line on the ground. After being made safe, the conductor was re-erected at an increased height to make sure farm machinery could pass safely underneath the power line. No one was injured.

At a farm in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, emergency repairs had to be carried out to overhead lines and conductors after a tractor hit an electricity pole. No one was injured.

As farm machinery continues to increase in size, the distance between equipment and nearby power lines is at risk of reducing, meaning that accidents could be more likely.

Paul Woodward, Safety Manager for National Grid Electricity Distribution, said:

“Every year, our engineers and technicians are called to incidents involving farming equipment and overhead power lines.

“Accidents involving the electricity supply can have devastating consequences, so it’s really important that the farmers ‘look out’ and ‘look up’ – particularly when working with big or heavy machinery.

“We are committed to ensuring that farm workers have the knowledge and resources they need to get home safe every day, and will continue to work with farming communities in South Wales and across the country to reduce incidents involving our power lines.”

As part of National Grid’s farm safety campaign, the operator has outlined five simple steps to ensure farmers stay safe when working close to power lines:

Never raise elevating equipment, such as spray booms, cabbage harvesters and trailer bodies, under or close to overhead power lines.
Never store or move materials under, or close to, overhead power lines, as this reduces the safe clearance distance beneath the overhead lines.
Know the maximum reach and height of any vehicle you are operating, and be vigilant when using GPS – accidents can still happen.
You cannot see electricity – the area around a fallen line, including the soil, equipment and other objects, could be live – so stay away.
If contact is made with a power line, farm workers are advised to stay in the cab and try to drive clear. If that is not possible, the driver should stay in the cab and telephone 105, only leaving the machine in an emergency. When leaving the vehicle, they should take care not to hold the machine and touch the ground at the same time, and take leaping strides so one foot is clear from the ground at all times – or ‘bunny hop’ away with both feet kept together.
Farmers are also encouraged to use the ‘What3Words’ app, which allows farmers to pinpoint the exact location of an incident. This means that network engineers can isolate the power in seconds using remote technology, therefore reducing the risk of accidents and threat to life.

National Grid will be at the Royal Welsh Show all week offering safety advice and giving out stickers to put in the cab of vehicles with a reminder of how to stay safe when working near power lines.

Farmers can find out more about National Grid’s safety advice and access additional resources at National Grid – Farming safety.

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Farming

The importance of keeping children safe on farms

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WALES Farm Safety Partnership, alongside Lantra Cymru has created a new e-learning course. ‘Children on Farms’ will give you guidance on keeping children safe on your farm during the upcoming summer holidays.

This course, taking roughly 45 minutes to complete, provides participants with the knowledge and tools to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for the whole family.

The course covers a wide range of child safety topics on the farm, including legal responsibilities, vehicle safety (tractors, ATVs), preventing falls, and managing hazards around equipment and harmful substances. It also emphasises the importance of creating a farm safety checklist.

Kevin Thomas Lantra Wales Director said; “Lantra understand the importance of children on family farms and fully support the need for the next generation to have a keen interest on the day-to-day workings of the farm, but it must be done with safety in mind. Lantra are fully committed to farm safety, especially for children, which is why Lantra have made this course free for everyone to complete”.

This timely resource is perfect for busy farmers who want to be proactive about child safety before the summer break.

A toolkit on child safety has also been created to underline the safety of children on farms.

Farms can be a dangerous place for children. Young children need a safe play area separate from the work zones, and for older children (under 16), any visit to the work area must be planned, closely supervised by an adult that’s not working, and for educational purposes.

Everyone in a farm work place has a responsibility to protect children who are vulnerable because of their age and physical and mental immaturity.

Vehicles and machinery present the greatest risk to children and are probably the areas of farm life most attractive to older children.

Meleri Jones, Farming Connect’s Health and Safety Coordinator, says “It’s important to keep safety in mind when children are on farm – you don’t want to live with regret.”

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