A hill farmer from the Cardiff area is one of 24 producers who recently joined a major research project in Wales that aims to boost the performance of sheep flocks.
Ben Williams, from Pentyrch, has around 800 South Wales Welsh Mountain ewes on his 550-acre family farm.
The Williams' main motives are to increase the performance of the ewes, and to sell rams with Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s Hill Ram Scheme welcomed the Williams and an additional 23 hill farmers to the project in 2020.
The scheme is designed to bring the latest technology to upland flocks in Wales with the aim of strengthening the sector through long-term breeding improvement and smart use of data.
Investing in breeding technology also has benefits for the environment, reducing emissions from agriculture, according to HCC.
The new flocks cover a range of different hill systems and sheep breeds and have been selected with the aim to reflect as many systems and breeds as possible.
Ben Williams said the Hill Ram Scheme had encouraged his family to look deeper into the performance of their flock.
"We aim to identify the top performing ewes to breed our replacements, and reduce the amount of time finished lambs are on the farm," he said, "You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
Heather McCalman, HCC Programme Coordinator, said there had been significant interest shown in the hill genetic improvement project.
"As a result, we have been able to have farmers with a range of hill sheep breeds from all across Wales," she added.
“The hill sector is vitally important to the sheep industry in Wales and making genetic progress in these hill flocks will have a knock-on benefit for the whole sheep sector.
"This new group of flocks will be making a valuable contribution to the industry, alongside the existing members.”
HCC’s Hill Ram Scheme is one of three 5-year projects in the Red Meat Development Programme, which is funded by the Welsh government.