How long has your family been in farming?
I’m the fourth generation to farm our land, so more than 100 years. My three sons, who are in their 20s, and my daughter, are also all involved with the farm, making them the fifth generation. And my grandchildren like to help out, too.
Where is the family farm based?
We’re in Llanidloes, right in the middle of mid Wales. Our farm is approximately 650 acres in size and our land is between 600ft and 1,450ft above sea level.
What breed of sheep do you farm?
We trial different ones, but the breed that really seems to work is Romney. They cope well with our weather conditions. We also farm beef cattle and we promote mixed grazing between the cows and the sheep. The benefit of this is that the cattle eat all the rough grasses and leave the nice, fine grass for our sheep and their lambs. All the manure that comes from the cows goes back onto the grazing pastures, which not only feeds the ground, but also feeds the stock – so we’ve created a mini ecosystem, if you will.
Can you talk us through your farm-to-table process?
We run a total of 1,250 breeding sheep. On 20 March every year, we aim to start lambing and, depending on the season, we look to be selling our first lambs 14 weeks after birth.
Wales is known for its lush grasslands, heathers and wild herbs, which enhance the flavours and texture of Welsh lamb. Is there anything special about the feed you give your livestock?
Over the past 10 years, we’ve focussed on high-sugar grasses – we’ve noticed that sheep produce more milk when eating this, and our lambs are meatier. As the weather heats up, our lambs spend their time outside in the fields, feeding on just grass and milk. In my opinion, there is nothing better than a grass-fed lamb. It’s more succulent and the colour is just right. Besides the feed, we also have to make sure we relieve the lambs of any stress in their lives – this ensures tender meat.
What’s the ideal way to cook lamb?
Oh, single lamb chops cooked in the oven with just a drizzle of honey are absolutely beautiful! You need to cook the chops until they’re three-quarters ready, add the honey and then finish them off in the oven so they’re covered in a dark glaze. My sons and I love lamb cooked this way.
Any specific type of honey?
Well, we have our own bees, so it’s our own honey, as well!
What do you love about farming?
It’s either in your genes or it isn’t. It’s not a job for me, it’s a way of life. As the saying goes, “You live to work or work to live”. A lot of farmers just want to live to work because they love what they do. Unfortunately, many farmers are seeing that their younger generations are not interested in this industry and this is worrying. We’re very lucky that our children like
Did you know?
Welsh Lamb has been recognised by the European Commission as having unique regional characteristics and, in 2003, it was awarded the status of Protected Georgraphical Indication (PGI). This certification mark acknowledges the provenance, production and traceability of the products and assures customers that the meat they are buying comes from lambs that are born, raised and slaughtered in Wales.