At Moelgolomen we’ve always stuck with the traditional breeds so it’s Welsh Mountain sheep and Welsh Black cattle all the way. In the past we have experimented with crossing the Welsh Mountain ewes to larger, lowland rams such as the Suffolk or Border Leiceister but when we get hit with a hard Welsh winter these breeds never do as well so now we’re back to being 100% Welsh Mountain sheep due to their hardiness, their easy care nature and most importantly their taste; because as we all know, ‘mountain lamb is sweeter’!
Since 1995 we’ve been recording the Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) of our sheep flock. EBVs allow you to measure the performance of every sheep on the farm to see which ones are offering you the best value for money. By measuring certain characteristics such as; 8 week weight, weaning weight, muscle depth, fat depth, maternal ability and litter size of every lamb born a computer programme can then generate an ‘index’ which gives you the overall performance score of each animal. By ensuring we keep only top performing animals for future breeding we have over the last 20 or so years created a flock of Welsh Mountain sheep which have fantastic growth rates off grass alone. By having such high performing sheep we never (unless under exceptional circumstances!) have to feed our lambs any concentrates or other additional feeds. This is what helps ensure that all our lambs taste so good as there’s nothing to compare with lamb that has been reared outside on fresh, mountain pasture. And by breeding for lambs that have good muscle depth we then create a carcass with fantastic confirmation and so plenty of delicious meat to enjoy!
In recent times we’ve also started measuring Faecal Egg Counts (FECs). By measuring the worm burden of all our flock we can ensure that we only treat the animals when it is absolutely necessary; allowing our sheep to build up natural resistance to parasites and so restrict the need for regular dosing.