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October 2006 — Brecknock Cheviots back in the news

Steve Dube of the Western Mail gives his take on the recent ram sale at Sennybridge in an article published October 17th.

Marks and Spencer agriculture specialist Rob Cumine held the Brecknock Hill Cheviot Societies modern methods up for high praise, as you can read below. (Article by Gaina Morgan, originally published in the Western Mail.)

Grasp the industry by the scruff of its neck and take it forward

The message resonating throughout the Future Farmers of Wales conference was that farmers had to establish a point of difference.

Farmer Huw Davies an Agrisgôp facilitator, said the example of Dolaucothi National Trust Lamb showed that farmers could establish a marketing “difference” to create a supermarket “must-have” and rise to the challenge of the Mid Term Review.

He warned that its implementation will result in farmers having to get more of their returns from the market place.

“Are farmers working out what the costs of production are?” he asked. We need to encourage them to do that. And added to that there are the problems of transparency.

“The taxpayer is more aware of the lump sum coming into farmers' pockets. The public perception is of the money we are getting from the Government in order to farm.”

But Mr Davies said change gave people options. They could get bigger or more efficient, get another income, get together or get out. The option chosen should be thought out and structured.

He added that the industry could be proud of its core values, but what brought in the money was how the produce was marketed.

And he said the public needed to be made more aware of the farmer's contribution to the environment.

Mr Davies urged farmers to take advantage of the help available and create opportunities.

Agrisgôp was a specialist development programme to help farming families who wished to develop new business opportunities.

One major success had been the launch of the Dolaucothi Estate National Trust Lamb, organised by a group of farmers in Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire and mentored by Agrisgôp. They had convinced the supermarkets that they had something they needed and that it couldn't be bought anywhere else.

“We need to grasp the industry by the scruff of its neck and take it forward,” he said.

“We need to sharpen up our marketing, and spend more money on educating the consumer.”

The Brecknock Hill Cheviot success story was another example of pointing up the difference, said Marks and Spencer agriculture specialist Rob Cumine.

He said the project had arisen from a phone call by a producer saying that this was a product Marks and Spencer had to have in its stores.

Mr Cumine said the collaboration between the retailer and farmers was a fine example of “walking the food chain”, with farmers visiting stores and consumers' questions being relayed to them.

Marks and Spencer also got involved with production, and offered incentives such as a cup presented at the Royal Welsh.

“It's working, and part of the big step has been co-ordination.” he said.

“The farmers are realising that they are part of something. We need to know when and how many lambs will be supplied at the start of the season. We want a certain number each week.

“The producers have taken that on board, there is collaboration and the result is that the 1,200 lambs sold in 2002 increased to 10,000 lat year.”

Mr Cumine who is originally from Pembrokshire, said a new venture had been launched at the Royal Welsh,with Welsh Black beef replacing Aberdeen Angus in all the Welsh stores. And to highlight the crucial importance of marketing, he played a seductive food advert which had led to an extra 170 animals a week being sold.

He urged the Future Farmers not to aspire to be average, to communicate, to look outside their business.

Sian Bushell's mission in life is to iron out differences and help to correct a situation where one in four farming families are no speaking to one of the family members because of succession issues.

“It's really sad personally, for the business, for the industry, and because rural society needs the family farm,” she said.

“People think succession is a problem, but it's a fantastic opportunity for each individual. They can use their assets, their experience and wisdom. It's a business opportunity.”

Ms Bushell, who trained in Australia, warned that there had to be an orderly succession with aspects and aspirations fully aired beforehand. Her role is to act as an independent facilitator at a farmers meeting so that underlying issues can be aired and resolved.

September 2006 — Breeding choice improves the hardiness of Welsh hill sheep

Brian Bowen with his flock

In an article published in the September 7th edition of the Farmers Guardian, Brian Bowen of Pencoedcae Farm (Tredega) describes his satisfaction with the Brecknock Hill Cheviot breed:

“I bought the [2005 sale] champion and one other ram with the specific idea of putting them to a selected bunch of ewes, I thought would produce the best lambs.

“My main aim is to improve the conformation without losing the hardiness that is so essential in the extreme conditions we face here.

“I am really pleased with the results, just looking at those 30 ewe lambs is a delight,” says Mr Bowen.

You can read more of Brian’s high praise for the Brecknock Hill Cheviots at the Farmers Guardian website.

Steve Dube published his take on the same story in the Western Mail on September 5th.

HIGH on a Heads of the Valleys hillside in conditions as harsh as any in Wales, sheep farmer Brian Bowen is regularly making top prices for his lambs at local markets.

Pencoedcae Farm, where Brian farms with his wife Jenny and parents John and Gwynfa Bowen, is high above Tredegar and the conditions are testing. The farmhouse and yard are 1,200 feet above sea level and the land rises to more than 2,000 feet.

August 2006 — Success at the Brecon County Show

Once again the Brecknock Hill Cheviots had an excellent show.

Best Ram went to Mr R.G. Davies of Tycanol, Llangynidr, and the Best Ewe went to W & S Workman of Fedw, Trecastle.

Congratulations must also once again go to H.E.Havard of Cwmbrynich, who this time received the Best Group award.

August 2006 — Success at the Royal Welsh Show

H.E. Havard with his champion Cheviot sheep

We are delighted to report on the results of a very successful Royal Welsh Show this year.

Congratulations to H.E. Havard of Cwmbrynich, Sennybridge, (Pictured) won the Champion Sheep in the Brecknock Hill Cheviot section. Whilst D.H. Morgan of Nantgwynne won the most points in the Cheviot section.

Finally The Lloyd Family ‘Top Quality‘ Sheep Award was won by the Brecknock Hill Cheviots

August 2006

Come and see us at the following events:

EventLocationDateEvent information
Royal Welsh Small HoldersLlanelwedd20th & 21st May 2006Stand 39 in the Sheep Shearing Shed. We will be showing wool, sheep and skin products.
Sheep 2006Malvern2nd August 2006TBA
Royal Welsh ShowLlanelwedd24th, 25th, 26th & 27th July 2006TBA

April 2006 — Brecknock Cheviots in the news

April 21st saw the publication of an article by Barry Alston in the Livestock News section of the Farmers Guardian. An excerpt from the article titled Brecknock Hill Cheviot lambs on top is presented below:

…the Brecknock Hill Cheviot plays an important role in Marks and Spencer marketing initiatives.

Last year some 10,000 lambs were sold to the High Street chain, with joints available in 100 stores across the UK.

An article by Gaina Morgan appeared in the Brecon & Radnor Express. Reproduced with permission below.

Cheviots: new life for the hills?

The worst lambing season for many years has seen the Brecknock Hill Cheviots come out on top, according to the man managing what is claimed to be Wales' biggest privately owned estate farmed in hand.

David Vaughan, the new chairman of the Brecknock Hill Cheviot Society, says the lambs are up and sucking very soon after birth despite extremely testing conditions.

“We started lambing at the end of March on the Cnewr Estate,” says David.

“The driving rain and very cold conditions has meant it's been one of the most testing seasons I've known in a lifetime on the land.

“The Brecknock Hill Cheviot really comes into it's own in conditions like this. It's a very cold, wet, lambing season. The conditions are testing for any breed and it's at times like this that the breed can be seen to be more inclined to cope.

“We cross a number of our sheep and it's very interesting that on these cold wet days, it's the pure bred Brecknock Hill Cheviots that thrive. The ewes live off grass with limited supplementary feeding and we are able to sell many lambs finished in the Autumn.”

David, who heads a team of six full-time and three part-time workers runs 5,000 ewes and Galloway suckler cows over an area that covers approximately 20 square miles. The Cheviots were first brought to Wales by the McTurks, who then crossed the breed with the Welsh native sheep to develop the Brecknock Hill Cheviot.

The Cnewr Estate, run by their descendants the Lloyd family, is currently celebrating it's 150 year anniversary in the Sennybridge area.

“It's fitting really,” says David “The weather during lambing this year and the fact that people are beginning to have to think seriously about life after the Single Farm Payment means that the breed is really coming into it's own.

“My own feeling is that less support in the future is going to mean that people will have to start spending less and will have to live off the land. The Brecknock Hill Cheviot ewe produces its own replacements as well as a finished lamb that is equal to any Continental or Downland breed.”

Mr Vaughan said that surplus lambs are sold directly from the farm each autumn. Finishers then ell them for the following Spring at very creditable weights of around 40 kilos.

And he's excited to be taking over the helm at a time when the breed's marketing scheme is becoming successful. Ten thousand lambs were sold to Marks & Spencer last year and were available in 100 stores. David's dream is to get them into all 400.

“We've everything going for us. The taste tests are all top scoring. People want to buy into the environment. The time is right for the Brecknock Hill Cheviot to achieve so much.”

A similar article appeared in the Country Farming suppliment of the Western Mail on the 11th of April titled The future looks Cheviot. Excerpt below:

The new chairman of the Brecknock Hill Cheviot Society believes the time is ripe for the sheep to come into its own

David Vaughan, farm manager on the 10,000 acre Cnewr estate at Sennybridge, says even the ewes and their lambs have successfully come through the worst lambing season for many years on what is believed to be Wales's biggest privately owned estate farmed in hand.