This year it will mark the start of Tecwyn Jones’s winter fair season and, for the first time, his show team will be entirely home-bred. Angela Calvert went to meet him.
Q: How did you get into showing?
A: I started when I was very young, showing Welsh Black cattle and Welsh Mountain sheep with my father. We would also go down to Smithfield and I got a taste for showing.
I started showing commercial cattle at the first Welsh Winter Fair in 1990. Winning with commercials gives you a hell of a buzz.
Q: What do you look for when selecting a show animal?
A: I want something smart, with good legs, top and head and it must have good loins, particularly for the Christmas fatstock shows. But I do not like anything too extreme as they are difficult to get weight on in the right places.
I think good frame is crucial and preparation is important, but you have to pick the right animal to work with.
Q: How and when do you start a show animal’s preparation?
A: If possible, I like to pick them out at four or five months of age and then at about seven months will start them with a halter. Ideally, I choose May- or June-born calves as they should be the right size and age to show through the summer and then go onto to winter circuit finishing up at Christmas fatstock shows.
It is a bit of a balancing act and the challenge is not to get them too heavy. It is good to give them a break after summer shows and this year we have been able to turn the show team out for three weeks to freshen up before we start pushing them again for winter. It also helps them keep a better coat.
Q: As well as exhibiting, you also do some judging. What do you look for?
A: The animal must be smart, correct and walk well and turn out is important. There are so many good cattle about, so the way one is presented can make a difference and make it stand out.
Q: How many show cattle do you usually have?
A: I generally keep three or four a year coming through. Feed is so expensive it is not economic to keep any more. We have kept some of the heifers we have shown successfully to breed with and now have the home-bred stock coming through.
I am not really looking to buy-in show cattle at the moment and it is so much more satisfying to win with something you have bred yourself. We also have a couple of pedigree Limousin cows which we have shown and we may possibly show more pedigrees in the future.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out showing commercial cattle?
A: You have got to be keen. It is hard work and takes up a lot of time. Feed and diesel are expensive, so you have to be in the top three to make it worthwhile. But it is really enjoyable and very social. We have made lots of new friends from all over the country.
TECWYN Jones farms with his wife Janice, daughter Sian, and sons Llion and Dylan, both currently sheep shearing in Norway, and Llyr, Ty Newydd, Nebo, a few miles from Llanrwst, North Wales.
Mr Jones’ father Goronwy, who built the farmhouse there in 1956 and established the Seisiog herd of Welsh Black cattle, is still actively involved in the farm.
The 263-hectare (650-acre) farm which rises to 487 metres (1,600 feet) above sea level and has spectacular views across to the Snowdonia Mountains. It is currently home to 16 pedigree Welsh Black and two Limousin cows and 16 commercial cows which run alongside a flock of 800 ewes.
The flock consists of 400 Welsh Mountains with the remainder Texel and Beltex crosses, plus a small pedigree Texel flock belonging to Llion.
The family usually competes at about 10 summer shows and three or four winter fairs. As well as the unprecedented success at Agri-Expo, other wins with commercial cattle include supreme at the Royal Welsh Show, five Beef Expo championships and numerous county show wins.