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FARM LIFE: Llyr Jones

Llyr and son
This month we meet Llyr Jones who farms Blaencwmerwydd near Llandysul with his parents, as well as being a familiar face and voice as an auctioneer in local livestock marts.

Mis yma ry’n yn fferm Blaencwmerwydd, Horeb, ger Llandysul, yn cwrdd â Llyr Jones sydd hefyd yn wyneb a llais adnabyddus fel arwerthwr da byw mewn martiau lleol. 

What do you farm and what does your average day look like?

Fferm odro a bîff yw Blaencwmerwydd ac rwy’n bartner gyda fy rhieni.  Mae’r godro’n dechrau am 5.30yb a phawb gyda’i job. Am 8 o’r gloch dwi’n mynd i fewn am frecwast cyn mynd i’r gwaith fel arwerthwr.  Gorffen wedyn am 5 a nôl adref i helpu gyda gweddill y godro, ac wrth gwrs y silwair a’r lloia.  

Blaencwmerwydd is a dairy and beef farm, and I am a joint partner with my parents. We currently milk 150 Pedigree Holstein Friesian cows and 100 followers. We also have 25 Pedigree Limousin cows on the farm. Blaencwmerwydd is 210 acres and we also rent a further 90 acres in the summer.  I also work away from the farm as a livestock auctioneer. 

We start milking at 5.30am. It’s usually my mother and a relief milker that milks while my father scrapes the yards and feeds the cows. I see to the calves and youngstock.  We finish milking around 8.00am and I then go in for breakfast and a quick change before heading off to my auctioneering work. I work until 5pm and get home to help with the remainder of the milking and feed the calves etc. There’s always something to do in the evenings, whether it’s AI the cows or moving a batch of calves. We like to finish up by 7pm, however, the silage season and calving cows does make the days longer than usual!

While I’m away at work, mum and dad run the farm day to day. The work varies from de-horning calves to fencing. We have contractors to do the slurry and silage, all other tractor work we try and do ourselves. 

How did you first start with the auctioneering work?  Was it always something in which you were interested?  Does it work well alongside the farm work?  

Do’n ni byth wedi meddwl bydden ni’n gweithio fel arwerthwr ond ches i’r cynnig o waith gan Mr Dai Lewis ar ôl gorffen ysgol a dyna oedd y dechrau. Ar y foment mae’n gweithio’n dda gyda’r fferm ac rwy’n lwcus i gael tîm da ym Mlaencwmerwydd sy’n gwneud y cyfan yn bosib.

I never thought I would be an auctioneer. I was lucky to be offered work with Mr Dai Lewis after I finished school and it all started from there.  At the moment it’s working well between the farm and my auctioneering work. We’re lucky to have a great team at Blaencwmerwydd with everyone involved making it easier for me to go off to work.

Llyr and son milking parlour
How important are rural marts to the rural community in modern times?  How do you see any changes to come in the way agricultural marts are run in the near future? 

Mae’r mart yn ran hanfodol o‘r gymuned wledig, nid yn unig yn rhoi’r cyfle gorau i fferwmyr werthu stoc i’w lawn botensial ond hefyd yn fodd o gymdeithasu.  Mae technoleg yn gwella’n gyson ac mae nawr yn bosib wneud cynnig o adref – ond rwy’n ceisio annog ffermwyr allan i ymyl y cylch gwerthiant ac i ffwrdd o’r fferm. 

The market is an essential part of the rural community. Not only does it give famers the best opportunity to sell their livestock to full potential, it is also a way of socialising with each other and crucial to the mental health and well-being of some. 

Technology is getting better all the time and there are ways now to bid from the comfort of your home. I try my best to encourage farmers to get to the ringside if possible and away from the farm at home. 

Supermarkets are another challenge to the livestock marts as they only want to source cattle and sheep from farms and won’t consider buying out of the mart unless they are very short of supply. It’s their way to try and eradicate competition and dominate the price of meat. That’s where the marts are crucial to farmers to create that competition which will eventually end in higher prices! TB rules are getting tougher and means famers are unable to market their stock because they are under restrictions. This is a financial loss both to farmers and us as livestock marts.

How has the farm evolved over the years/generations?  Is there any item of machinery that you couldn’t be without?

Ni wedi cynyddu o 50 buwch pan fuodd mam a dad ddechre i 150.  

Bydde dad ffaelu byw heb y JCB handler nawr – mae’n rhedeg ryw 8 i 10 awr y dydd!

We haven’t invested heavily back in the farm with low milk price over the years making it very difficult to do so. We have increased from 50 cows when my mum and dad started up to the current 150 cows we milk. This meant less time to do other work, such as tractor work. We changed from making big bales ourselves to having a local contractor to do clamp silage. This has made things a lot easier with 120 acres being foraged in 6 hours. And if you’d ask my dad, he couldn’t live without our JCB handler now. It probably runs 8-10 hours a day!

What do you most enjoy about the farming and auctioneering work?  

Mae misoedd yr haf yn braf pan mae’r silwair wedi gasglu a ni’n gwybod fydd y gwartheg â bwyd drwy’r gaeaf.  Rwy’n mynhau’r ochr bridio hefyd.  

Mae diwrnod mart yng Nghaerfyrddin ar Ddydd Mercher yn sbeshal – o ni wastad yn mwynhau mynd yno yn grwt gyda mam a dad a tadcu, felly mae gweithio yna nawr fel arwerthwr yn rhywbeth arbennig. 

I enjoy the summer months and when the silage is in the clamp and there is a feeling of relief as you have made sure that the cows will be well fed for the upcoming winter. I also enjoy the breeding side and selecting sires to AI the cows which does tie in with my auctioneering work when it comes to selling dairy cows in the sale ring. 

The dairy day on Wednesdays at Carmarthen mart is a very special day, and a day I’d always enjoy when I was a little boy going with mum, dad and my grandad. To be working there now as an auctioneer is very special to me.

Llyr auctioneer
What’s the element of farming you least enjoy?  

Mae profi TB yn gyfnod anodd, llawn stress a gofid ac mae’n gwneud niwed ofnadwy i’n cymunedau amaethyddol ni.  

TB testing is an element I hate on the farm at home. It’s a stressful few days and an anxious final day when the cattle are run through the race to face the results. A clear TB test is a relief but unfortunately not everyone is so fortunate, and thousands of cows are killed every year and it’s frustrating that a large percentage of them show no lesions of TB at the abattoir. Shame the Welsh Government can’t see the damage this shambolic test is doing to our rural communities!

What’s the biggest challenge you see for farming over the coming decade?  Do you see a healthy future for your children in farming?

Mae’r rheolau NVZ sydd ar y gweill yn mynd i newid pethau ac ry’n ni’n ceisio gwneud newidiadau nawr er mwyn paratoi. 

Gyda’r rheolau a’r agweddau negyddol sy’n bodoli’n fyd-eang ar hyn o bryd tuag at wartheg a’r ffordd maen nhw’n cael eu beio am ddifrodi’r hinsawdd, mae’n anodd gweld dyfodol i’m mhlant yn amaethyddiaeth.  Ond maen nhw’n ifanc o hyd ac fe wnai barhau i fod yn bositif a gwneud fy ngorau i wneud y fferm yn effeithiol yn amgylcheddol ac o ran cynhyrchu bwyd o safon.  

There is no doubt that the NVZ rules that are hovering in the future are going to change the way we farm and it’s why we are making a few small changes now to prepare for when the rules do come in. TB is another huge hurdle the government hasn’t managed to deal with. It’s so frustrating that we are no wiser or closer to eradicating TB or the mental and emotional stress it places on farmers. 

With all these rules, along with the negative attitudes worldwide blaming cows for damaging the climate, I do see a difficult future for my kids when it comes to farming. Of course it’s early days as they are only 3 and 1 years old, and I will certainly remain positive and work the best I can to keep the farm environmentally efficient whilst also producing quality food!

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