Labour efficiency and an environment that is exceptional for supporting animal health and welfare were at the top of the ‘must have’ list when a pedigree beef farming family designed a new shed for their cattle.

The Morris family replaced outdated and poorly positioned buildings at Lower Drostre, near Brecon, with a shed that allows the routine of bedding, mucking out and feeding to be completed by one person in less than 90 minutes.

“A tired, stressed stockman bogged down with an inefficient system cannot operate as they should,’’ says Griff Morris, who farms with his son, Gareth, and his wife and daughter-in-law, Carolyn and Steph.

The design had to be such that the shed could be managed by one man in the minimum amount of time.

“The routine work in our view must be as time and motion efficient as possible to give enough time for stock handling, assessment, evaluation and necessary maintenance and to minimise the number of never-ending days we all have to endure from time to time,’’ says Griff.

The building is designed around a central feed passage with calving pens to the rear.

There are nine housing pens which can be shut back with gates from the 18-foot scrape passage in front.

Feeding off that bedded area are up to 24 calving pens measuring 20ft x 10ft which also double as creep areas when calving has finished.

These pens can also be shut off with gates to create a scrape passage; when scraped, the cattle are held back to allow straw bedding to be blown into the pens.

“The same system allows any group or individual animal arriving to be moved to the handling race and returned in a circuit without fuss,’’ says Griff.

The efficiency of the building is its best feature, he adds.

“The factors that can affect an animal’s performance are diverse – stress, competition, disease and nutritional imbalance – and the factors that can affect a stockman’s performance are just as diverse – stress, overwork, injury and long hours.

“It is the stockperson’s job to manage all these factors and this shed allows us to do that.’’

The Morris family has bred pedigree cattle for 35 years.

Bulls and heifers from the pedigree herd are sold at Carlisle, Welshpool and Brecon Society sales and bull calves from the commercial herd are sold at six to nine months for finishing.

Heifers are all retained as embryo recipients and sold as second calvers with calves at foot.

Charolais was the principle breed – animals from the Cargriff herd were champions at many of the top shows including Perth, Carlisle, and the Royal Welsh.

When Gareth joined the business, he introduced Limousins and that is now the main breed.

“Whereas the parameters for what defines market relevance may change ‘a good cattle beast is still a good cattle beast’ and we have what we consider to be an outstanding crop of calves,’’ says Griff.

The pedigree Dylans herd developed from an embryo flushing programme which now revolves around five donor cows; among the most successful donors are Dylans Fanta and Dylans Magical who have produced many show-winning progeny.

Of the 11 embryos implanted in the 2021 breeding programme, 11 pregnancies resulted.

“We hope for a 60-70% success rate, anything over that is a bonus, so this was a tremendous result,’’ says Griff.