Genetics combined with a reseeding policy is helping a Welsh sheep farmer to future-proof his business amid changes to farm support.

Iwan Jones runs a flock of 700 Welsh ewes on the Llŷn peninsula.

He established the flock 10 years ago after returning home from New Zealand, where he had been running a contract shearing business.

His intention was to set up a scanning business and, in turn, to develop his own sheep enterprise on 120 acres of permanent rented grassland and some smaller short-term rented parcels of land.

He has introduced Aberfield genetics and this, combined with rolling out a forage-based low management system, has allowed him more time to devote to both his scanning and contract fencing businesses.

When he first established the flock, Iwan bred and sold traditional Welsh Mules in small groups via social media.

“It was a job that took up time, but that’s where the bulk of the sheep enterprise income came from,” he recalls.

He has since introduced the Aberfield maternal sire to two thirds of the flock.

This, he says, has given him a ready market for his ewe lambs. The majority are weaned in mid-July at 12 weeks, at an average 30kg, and are all sold within a month.

“They can all go – up to 300 head – in one day, on one lorry and, in return, I receive one payment, job done,’’ says Iwan.

He uses Innovis performance data to select for specific traits including growth rate; Aberfield-cross tup lambs finish at 18.5kg from 12 weeks with the majority sold off a forage-only diet by November; 80 per cent are within the R specification.

Iwan is using EID to record and monitor weights at weaning and every three weeks thereafter, to ensure lambs are on target.

His land management policy has enabled the unit’s carrying capacity to expand from the original 500 ewes to 700.

Ten acres is reseeded annually with a forage rape-chicory mix undersown with a three-year ryegrass ley; this is grazed by the finishing lambs.

He describes winter grazing ewes on tack land as a “real game changer’’.

“Whilst it’s a painful cheque to write at the time, it completely frees me up for the winter to focus on my scanning business - I scan over 120,000 ewes, and it takes me away from home every day for three months,’’ says Iwan.

Twin-bearing ewes were previously lambed indoors but he now has sufficient grass to lamb the entire flock outdoors shortly after ewes return in March.

“The Aberfield crosses are easily lambed and thrive off milk and grass,’’ says Iwan. “There’s also the added factor I don’t have to make any silage which leaves more time for the other businesses as well as for the ewes.”