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Young Farmer Focus: Lee Pritchard, Cwm Carno, Rhymney

Lee Pritchard, 24, farms South Wales Mountain sheep and a flock of Brecknock hill Cheviot sheep at Cwm Carno. After studying at Usk agricultural college he now farms in partnership with former FUW vice-president Lorraine Howells at the top of Rhymney Valley with 160 hectares (400 acres) of owned land.

On farm: The sheep are run on the Gelligaer and Merthyr common adjoining the farm for most of the year but bought in for winter feeding.

 

This gives the common a well-earned rest, ready for new life to enjoy it in spring.

 

Ewes are fed home-produced silage through the winter months outside and most then lamb outside.

 

We keep about 350 ewe lambs to replace the draft ewes, which we sell at Nelson Sheep sale.

 

About 250 older ewes, those carrying cross-bred lambs, Suffolk and Blue Texel crosses, are also kept in the shed for lambing.

 

Cattle also graze on the common most of the year, just south of the Brecon Beacons.

 

I bring them in round November time when they are fed on silage.

 

However, we have to TB test the cattle twice a year to be allowed to do this.

 

Scanning: Gathering the hill has been top of the agenda with our sheep scanner due in the next week.

 

All the sheep will be scanned and kept in their separate groups to be fed accordingly.

 

The twins will be fed ad-lib silage and 450g of cake daily and singles will get ad-lib silage and feed buckets.

 

Calving: We have had our first calf of the year and it is doing well, living outside and getting hardened to the chilly conditions quite quickly.

 

We have about 30 cows left to calve in the next couple of weeks.

 

The next job is to put the heifers to our Welsh Black bull, Eirianfa Griff, and a couple have already been put to a recently bought Charolais bull.

 

All heifers are kept in for their first winter for better growth and those which are not needed as replacements are sold for breeding.

 

Steers are fattened and sold through Cig Mynydd Cymru, Treharris, a butcher’s shop we own in partnership with four other family farms.

 

YFC: It is a busy time of year in the YFC calendar.

 

I am an active member of Gelligaer YFC and this year I am 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, though we do not 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 do not want to see

our supermarket shelves flooded with foreign produce which we could successfully grow here.

 

Supermarkets have a big impact on farming businesses and I think it is important they support farmers and give them a fair deal.

 

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.

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