But farmers were looking towards other livestock to combat the uncertainty facing the sheep sector
Sheep numbers in Wales have topped 10 million for the first time since 2002, but sheep farmers are looking to spread the risks of Brexit by diversifying into different types of livestock, according to Welsh meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC).
With the sector increasingly uncertain as Brexit approaches, the June agricultural survey suggested there was scope for an expanding Welsh beef herd with significantly higher numbers of young female beef cattle on-farm.
HCC also highlighted an 8 per cent increase in the number of fattening pigs.
HCC industry development and relations manager John Richards said: “Sheep numbers have continued their upward trend this year, and prices have remained relatively buoyant, helped by a significant rise in Welsh Lamb exports.”
“But many farmers are aware that part of the reason for that lies in the fall in the value of the pound since last summer.”
“In many of the farmer meetings I have attended over the past few months, there have been interesting discussions over how the market and industry in general might look after we leave the EU in 2019,” he said.
“Independent reports have suggested that the sheep sector – which sells a third of its lamb to EU countries – is one of the most vulnerable to a hard or no-deal Brexit where tariffs may be imposed on exports.”
“It seems that some farmers are now looking at their own businesses to see if they can spread risk through either the beef herd or new ventures.
“An example of this may be that the number of fattening pigs on Welsh farms increased by 8 per cent. Producers may be looking to supplement farm incomes by diversifying into rearing and finishing different types of livestock.”