Ceredigion farmer wins Livestock Champion of the Year Award

Gary Howells' stockmanship skills are of the highest calibre, NFU Cymru says
Gary Howells' stockmanship skills are of the highest calibre, NFU Cymru says

A beef and sheep farmer from Ceredigion has won the annual Livestock Champion of the Year Award for his quality of stockmanship.

Gary Howells, who farms in Pentrecwrt, near Llandysul, has been announced the winner of NFU Cymru's industry award.

The competition, now in its sixth year, seeks to recognise the role a livestock manager can make to a farm and to the Welsh industry as a whole.

Gary, who farms around 450 acres alongside his wife Meinir, has always been a keen farmer.

From the age of 16, he took an interest in sheep scanning and completed a course enabling him to scan his own pedigree flock of Texel ewes.

He eventually grew his business ,which is now in its 24th year.

Gary, who has two young children, Sioned, aged three and Dafydd, 19 months, farms around 600 sheep and 100 ewe lambs.

He sells between 150 and 200 yearling rams each year and also keeps just shy of 200 head of cattle.

Gary sells 95% of the lambs for breeding, and the couple keep Pedigree Texel ewes, suffolks, balwens, charolais, beltex and blueface. They also have a small flock of commercial ewes.

The yearling rams are sold through a number of channels including the NSA Ram Sale, Welshpool tup sale and on social media.

Gary's Texel flock is one of the oldest flocks in the UK and his focus is to produce rams for his customers’ future profits, not just for the show ring.

The farmer keeps around 50 sucklers, which are mostly limousine x blue, and a herd of pedigree lims.

He also keeps 40 heifers, which are bulled each year to sell as cows and calves in May. Currently, he has 30 heifers which are ready to be bulled now.

Over the last five years, the couple have made improvements to the farm's facilities, including a new slurry store, two new sheds and concreted yards to ensure that the stock have the best chance to reach their full potential at sales.

Gary places an emphasis on breeding what the customer is looking for and believes this is essential to the future proofing of his business.

He aims to increase the value and profit of each animal produced.

He also continues scanning to supplement the business and usually scans around 70,000 sheep, and some cows, annually.

Health and safety is a big part of the business. New handling facilities have been installed, including a new race and crushes with a superscoop, which has made TB testing, clipping and injection much easier for him.

Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Livestock Board, Wyn Evans said: “One of the factors we were looking was the quality of the stockmanship, as this is a major factor in determining the success of any livestock business.

“Gary’s stockmanship skills are of the highest calibre as can be evidenced by the quality of the stock on farm, and his passion for his animals is second to none.

“We were very impressed with Gary’s passion for looking after his stock and he also demonstrated that he was continually looking to improve his business.”

Gary was presented with the prize of £500, sponsored by NFU Mutual, and a Royal Welsh engraved crystal trophy.