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Rachel Lewis-Davies: A beef crisis, but not at Yscoedreddfyn, and now a tug-of-war mum

A perfect storm of supply and demand and supermarket price wars, bovine TB and the Government’s refusal to acknowledge increased costs of keeping suckler cows in the Welsh uplands, all combine to undermine the long-term confidence of beef producers.

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There is no denying the current crisis in the beef sector. The short memories of the retailers just 12 months on from the horsemeat scandal is frustrating to say the least.

 

And what do we do here in Wales? Well we kick the issue into the ‘long grass’ and announce yet another review.

 

At Yscoedreddfyn, we ignore the industry malaise and go out and buy 20 Friesian bull calves for Ceri to rear over the summer. They are strong, healthy calves and are doing well on twice daily feeding on a cold milk system.

 

We wonder whether there will be any return for Ceri’s efforts, but we are keen not to dampen her enthusiasm and, for now, content the outlay has not been too significant and costs should be manageable compared to the cost of keeping suckler cows.

 

Having built a business over almost two decades on the premise of maximising stocking levels, we are prepared to take the risk. Bobby reflects at least when disaster struck and we lost our tenanted farm we had a decent amount of stock to sell to raise some of the capital required to finance the next move.

 

It is good to see the production ethos has been engrained into the next generation, with Lewis having picked and marketed the first pull of Charollais lambs in Talgarth during half-term.

 

He clearly enjoyed the experience, commenting ‘it is the best feeling in the world to stand in market and sell something you have produced’.

 

Speaking of the next generation, we are just back from the annual Brecknock YFC Rally with Lewis and Gwilym competing for Trecastle YFC.

 

I think it was Sarah Palin, US vice-presidential hopeful, who described ‘hockey moms’ as ‘pitbulls with lipstick’.

 

It is not an analogy I have ever had much empathy with until now. Having enthusiastically cheered the Trecastle YFC tug-of-war teams, I am pleased to announce the training paid off and we were victorious in all three cateogies, not losing a single end.

 

As a newly enlisted tug-of-war mum, I ask where is my lipstick? We are off to compete at the Royal Welsh Show.

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