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Farming

Auction markets see a surge in new season lambs

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INCREASED numbers of new season lambs have entered the market this year, with 22% more lambs sold at Welsh auction markets between March and the end of June compared to the same period in 2016.

In England, the figure was even higher at 26%. This can be attributed to a favourable growing season and improved market prices encouraging producers to sell their lambs earlier.

For the latest week ending July 1, the new season lamb SQQ at auction markets in Wales stood at 207.5p/kg, a decrease of 15p on the previous week’s average. Despite the latest fall, the level seen is 19p above the average for the corresponding week in 2016.

John Richards, Industry Information Executive at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) said: “Lamb prices over the last month have been significantly stronger than those during the same period last year. This is linked to the weaker Sterling which has led to UK exports bringing better returns to our exporters, with the benefits subsequently felt by producers here in Wales. We also saw less of last year’s lamb on the market during June, which also helped the trade.

“The numbers of lambs sold weighing between 32-39kg increased by almost a third. The pattern is even more evident at English auction markets as reports show that throughputs were more than 50% higher in this weight category than in the same four month period last year.”

He added: “The liveweight lamb trade in Wales held up at historically high levels for much of June, but prices have eased slightly in the last few weeks to match the expected seasonal trend.”

Looking forward, it is expected that all the domestic supermarkets will switch to stocking UK lamb over the coming weeks. This may improve demand while the export market is expected to remain resilient due to the favourable exchange rate.

“These factors should have a positive impact on the market, however, as always, the supply of lambs will dictate price fluctuations,” said John Richards. “The coming month will give us a better understanding of the true market situation. Last year the market was significantly affected due to the EU referendum in late June which caused Sterling to fall dramatically.”

For the latest week ending July 1, the new season lamb SQQ at auction markets in Wales stood at 207.5p/kg, a decrease of 15p on the previous week’s average. The latest price is some 35p below the average seen the fortnight before. Despite the latest fall, the level seen is 19p above the average for the corresponding week last year.

The deadweight lamb trade improved during early June but has come back in the last week however the latest price is significantly higher than the level seen last year. For the week ending June 24, the GB deadweight lamb price stood at 487.4p/kg, a fall of 22p on the previous week. It is reported that the deadweight trade has followed the liveweight prices and as such it is expected that the average price will be back again during the week ended July 1.

At the current levels prices are almost 75p above the deadweight price seen during the same week in 2016 which was pre-EU referendum and as such the strength of Sterling caused some difficulties for UK exporters.

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Farming

Last Golden Eagle of Wales found dead

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WALES will no longer see the golden eagle fly through the skies after the last of its kind was found dead by a walker in Abergwesyn Valley, near Llanwrtyd Wells.

The Golden Eagle was native to Wales, Europe and North America and due to human persecution had begun to die out, the last breeding pair being found in Snowdonia in 1850. It is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere, but unfortunately Wales will not see the bird in action for a very long time.

The female bird of prey was being watched and followed by the presenter of Spring Watch, Iolo Williams, and will appear in the last episode of the latest show ‘Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales.’

The company behind the television show which captures the highlights of Welsh wildlife, Aden Productions, commented on the extinction of the Golden Eagle. Taking to twitter, a statement read:
“Our whole crew was shocked and saddened to hear about the demise of our beloved Cambrians golden eagle, the last golden eagle to fly wild in Wales. We hope our final episode of Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales is a fitting tribute to her.”

It is still not known how the female bird died, leaving questions for bird lovers, but plans are being made by the Eagle Reintroduction Wales project to reintroduce the bird of prey back into Welsh wildlife is under way. However, it is explained that this is not a simple process. They will firstly need Natural Resource Wales to issue a license which does take time.

The Golden Eagle has not left the UK completely and can still be found in the far North of Scotland.

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Farming

Big Farmland Bird Count returns

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JIM EGAN has sent out a rallying cry for people to pick up their binoculars and go bird-spotting for the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) which returns on Friday, February 8.

The passionate organiser of the count, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is urging farmers, land managers, gamekeepers and all wildlife enthusiasts to spend 30 minutes recording what species they see on their patch of land from February 8th to the 17th.

Your support will help identify the farmland birds that are flourishing due to good conservation methods and ones in need of most support.

“It would be fantastic to see even more farmers to take part in the count this year,” said Jim.

“Counting birds on farms is a great way to recognise what species are there as well as being an opportunity to take time out and see the benefits of work such as wild seed mix and supplementary feeding.

“Taking part and submitting results enables us at GWCT to shout about the important conservation work many farmers are doing.

“We want landowners to be proud of their efforts. We will make sure that the public and policymakers hear about what can be achieved on Britain’s farms. The BFBC is a very positive way to showcase what can be achieved.”

Backing this vital citizen-science project, running for the sixth successive year, is the NFU, which is this year’s sponsor.

President Minette Batters is vowing her support to the count by going bird-watching on her farm in Downton, Wiltshire.

She will be joined on day one with GWCT biodiversity advisor Pete Thompson, an advocate of the count, both of whom will be ready with their binoculars, notepads and sharpened pencils, recording what they see.

“I am delighted to be taking part in this year’s GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count which the NFU is pleased to be sponsoring for the very first time,” she said.

“It’s becoming an important national event where thousands of farmers and growers around the country are able to take stock of and importantly, take pride in what they find on their land.

“The NFU supports initiatives like the Big Farmland Bird Count as without sound management of the environment, enhancement of habitats, protection of wildlife and support for pollinators and soils, we do not have farming businesses.

“So, I would encourage all farmers to take part, and also remember to submit your records to the GWCT, so we can pull together a vital national snapshot of the state of the nation when it comes to farmland birds.”

A record-breaking 1,000 people took part in last year’s count, recording 121 species across 950,000 acres.

A total of 25 red-listed species were recorded, with five appearing in the 25 most commonly seen species list. These include fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, song thrushes and yellowhammers. The most plentiful of these were fieldfares and starlings, which were seen on nearly 40% of the farms taking part.

At the end of the count, the results will be analysed by the Trust. All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.

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Farming

New Flock and Herd Health Officers

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HYBU Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has appointed two new Flock and Herd Health Officers to its ambitious five-year Red Meat Development Programme, designed to equip Wales’s lamb and beef industry for a changing future.

The posts are key to delivering the programme’s commitment to helping farmers achieve on-farm efficiency and drive best practice in proactive animal health planning.

The programme is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Lowri Reed hails from a farming background near Llanon in central Ceredigion, whereas Lowri Williams is from Llanfihangel y Creuddyn near Aberystwyth, and is a graduate in Animal Management and Welfare from Harper Adams University.

Dr Rebekah Stuart, the coordinator of the Flock and Herd Health Project at HCC, said: “We’re delighted to have recruited two officers with experience and knowledge of agriculture and flock management to this important strand of work.

“There are few things that can have as great an impact on the efficiency and bottom line of a livestock enterprise as a proactive and coordinated approach to animal health and eradicating disease.

“The project will help farmers to work with vets to put health plans in place and monitor their effectiveness. Since opening an initial expression of interest window late last year at the Winter Fair, we’re encouraged by how many farmers are keen to be involved. We look forward to working with them to put this exciting project into action.”

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