Wales’ national flock exceeds 10 million, with the sheep population outnumbering two-legged residents by three to one.
Dominated by mountains, the rugged Welsh landscape is perfectly suited to these hardy, woolly mammals, where they thrive with minimal intervention.
Grazing fresh grass helps develop Welsh lamb’s incredible, naturally sweet flavour. In celebration of this year’s Love Lamb Week campaign which runs from 1-7 September, it seems only fitting that we ask our two Welsh regional managers, Liz Rees and Dewi Parry to share their baaa-rmy farming passions.
Like many people in the RABI team, Liz and Dewi have strong family connections with farming. In fact, farming has been in Liz’s family for generations and being able to continue that legacy to produce quality Welsh lamb is very important to her.
“We farm in Powys within the Brecon Beacons National Park and have a flock of 800 ewes plus followers,” says Liz.
“Being a farmer not only has huge responsibilities to care for your livestock but also brings so many rewarding experiences.
“Lambing is my favourite time on the farm. We start lambing a few pedigree Suffolks in early January. Then again in February with the lowland flock and then finally in March and April with the hill flock.
“I am very fortunate to be able to life in a beautiful part of rural Wales while working within the agricultural sector that I have loved all my life.
“Both my jobs are rewarding and complement one another in various ways. Being part of a community with like-minded individuals holds a special quality and bond which is a huge part of the Welsh heritage and culture,” adds Liz.
Further north on Anglesey, Dewi farms with his girlfriend, Meinir, on her family farm.
“We have a small flock of pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters, which we run alongside a commercial flock of 40 mules and Texel cross ewes,” Dewi explains.
“We sell the Texel cross commercial lambs off grass when they’re fat and around 40kgs. The Bluefaced rams we produce are sold as lambs at the breed society sales in September and October.
“At this time of year, we’re busy getting all the ewes sorted ready for tupping, checking them for any defects with their mouths and udders, giving them all a mineral bolus and moving them onto better grazing. We’ll turn the teaser out at the end of the week to get the ewes cycling before we turn the rams in later in the month on 21 September.”
Dewi says the best thing about being a sheep farmer is the challenge and hope of breeding the perfect lamb.
“It’s the excitement of matching the right ewes to the right ram and waiting eagerly to see how the lambs come out five months later… it may not sound exciting to everybody, but for me, nothing beats it,” he adds.
Dewi says he enjoys the balance between farm life and working for RABI.
“We are not a massive farming enterprise so day to day jobs can easily be done in the mornings and evenings. My annual leave from the charity is used fairly exclusively to attend shows, sales and to be free at lambing time.
“Sheep farming is a huge part of our national heritage, and it can be, and is being done in harmony with the environment. We need to be proud of the fact that sheep in this country are a sustainable source of both high-quality protein, but also of wool. It is infinitely more ethical to farm lamb on the grassland and uplands of Wales than it is to import it from anywhere,” says Dewi.
When asked about the best aspect of working with the farming community, Dewi doesn’t hesitate: “The people. They’re passionate, caring and interesting.”
Don’t forget to support our sheep farmers during Love Lamb by buying British or find out more about the campaign on the AHDB website. Thank you.