Back to College for NSA Welsh Sheep 2019

Glynllifon Landbased College will be the setting for NSA Welsh Sheep 2019. The venue will give visitors the opportunity to update on all the latest news, views and technical innovation against a compelling historic backdrop.

NSA Welsh Sheep will be held at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor Glynllifon, near Caernarfon on Tuesday 21st May 2019.

Welshsheep 2015

The venue is a 700 acre lowland farm consisting of 400 acres of farm land and 300 acres of woodland run as a commercial enterprise. Five hundred youngsters, aged between 14 and 19, study for Level 1, 2 and 3 in agriculture, agricultural engineering, forestry and conservation, animal management and veterinary nursing.

The Glynllifon site is owned by Grwp Llandrillo Menai College. Farm Manager Rhodri Manod Owen says the college has always been keenly involved in NSA Welsh Sheep and college students look forward to immersing themselves in all aspects of the event.

He says:
“We’ve always taken part and competed as a college in the Young Shepherd competitions and taken part in the show. We’ve always thought it’s important for Wales, because it showcases the sheep industry, from which a large proportion of our students come.

“We feel it’s important to have it here in this area of Snowdonia. There are good logistics for people to travel to it and good opportunities for student involvement.

“Visitors will see a beautiful historic estate alongside a livestock farm based on grass and forage production. They will also see Glastir agri environmental work and some innovative developments, such as the Techno Grazing land, and our various farm enterprises.

The farm comprises mainly grass and forage with a dairy herd of 200 cows, plus a hundred followers and a Stabiliser suckler herd. The dairy herd breeding programme centres on breeding Procross cows, using the Holstein, Scandinavian Red and the Montbeliarde, producing a medium sized cow producing milk for Dragon cheese production at South Caernarvon Creameries.

The Stabiliser beef herd and some Welsh Blacks are put to a Stabiliser bull and have been out wintered now for five winters. They are Spring calving, and graze on a Techno grazing system where they are moved every three days, with bull calves being either sent to a feed lot or finished on farm.

The traditional flying flock at Glynllifon has been replaced by a closed flock, comprising 600 commercial Lleyn medium sized 60 kg ewes able to produce lamb off grass and forage. The closed flock is well placed to take advantage of excellent bio security and enables full control of replacement genetics.

The flock also comprises 40 purebred continental ewes crossed with high Index rams to produce replacement rams off grass and forage diets. Texel, Charollais and Charmoise rams are used on the majority of the flock to produce butchers’ lambs from the commercial Lleyns. The Charmoise has been used on ewe lamb replacements for the first time this year, giving easy lambing, putting less strain on the ewe lamb and getting vigorous lambs.

Rhodri says that while the farm has targets to make a profit, it’s good for students to see different breeds and how they individually perform.

Event organiser, Helen Roberts, is looking forward to the involvement of the college. She says it’s the first time it’s been held in a college. The fact that it’s a college and a working site, mean it will be a very different set up, but with the same things on offer albeit not in the traditional location.

Helen says:
“My challenge is to get the students all involved. It ties in with the NSA Next Generation project we’ve been running for a few years now.”

Rhodri agrees and wants the student involvement to also extend to forestry students, engineering students, animal management students. He wants everyone to enjoy the day and to be involved in everything, from the seminars to parking, the farm walks and the competitions.

He says his students are all eager. His concern is the current political situation, with access to markets absolutely critical. Brexit is a serious concern, the market for Welsh lamb in Europe is both lucrative and significant. He emphasises: “We can do the job, we can innovate, we can get better at what we’re doing and that’s mostly down to genetics, grass and forage nutrition. We’ve certainly got the drive and enthusiasm to do it but we need that market in place.

“I think our students will be in a good place to face the challenges of the future. I’m very confident with what they get from the college when they leave us. They are here for two years, It’s a part of the journey. We are emphasising the importance of certain things there is scope to improve on. These include maximising the use of grass and genetics”.


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