2020 was certainly a challenging year for sheep breeders in the face of the many restrictions in place and so far, this year is proving to be no different. Show organisers are between a rock and a hard place, not knowing how much preparation to make for an event in the face of uncertainty about whether it can actually take place. Bookings for NSA and other trade shows can only be provisional and the many meetings, flock visits and social occasions held by breed societies have been put on hold, as has been the case with the Llanwenog Sheep Society.
But all is not doom and gloom and there is plenty of room for optimism. Embracing modern technology and moving online in all its various formats has allowed activities to carry on. The Society is using Zoom for all its meetings and held a successful virtual show for Llanwenogs last summer. We are fortunate that livestock auctioneers quickly put measures in place to allow livestock markets to continue trading and the 2020 sheep trade has been very buoyant. This was borne out at the Society’s Annual Show and Sale at Llanybydder when the various restrictions certainly did not deter potential purchasers attending and bidding.
Above all else the Llanwenog can rightly claim to be a versatile native breed fit for the future. It is ideal for the commercial farmer and small holder, a wide range of environments and management systems and for supermarket/export specification carcasses and niche markets. This is all founded on the breed’s economy of production, ease of management and excellent quality meat.
A look at a set of grading results from a commercially run flock of Llanwenogs must surely provide confidence in the inherent ability of the breed to meet market demands. Out of the eleven purebred Llanwenog lambs, only one had a poorer shape (O2), but importantly none were over fat all grading 2 or 3L. Interestingly the lamb grading E2 was a Beltex sired lamb out of a Beltex X Llanwenog ewe amply demonstrating the ability of a Llanwenog cross ewe crossed to the right terminal sire to enhance carcass quality even further.
Slaughter Date: 25 February 2020
The ewes from this same flock have just scanned at 187%, again demonstrating the breed’s potential profitability.
Despite all the challenges which may face us this year, the future will be brighter. Shows will bounce back, even bigger and better as they did after Foot and Mouth all those years ago and “we will meet again” at all the social occasions which are an integral part of our Society.