A TOTAL of 22 new farms have been recruited and completed the first phase of activity on Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s hill ram scheme.

The new farms joined the scheme over the autumn months and are following the examples of the seven leader flocks, who have been involved in the scheme since autumn 2018.

Over the past few months, all of the new hill ram scheme farms have begun the performance recording process and have all successfully taken tissue samples from their flock ahead of the 2020 lambing season.

In the hill ram scheme, DNA-parentage technology is being utilised for the first time on this scale to ensure that extensive hill farms can record their genetics with little to no alterations to their systems.

The incorporation of technology into hill farms will allow individual businesses to increase their resilience during uncertain times.

The total hill ram scheme now has a diverse network of 29 farms participating in genetic performance recording, spanning from the Preseli mountains up to the Snowdonia National Park.

The farms also range in size and use a variety of traditional Welsh hill breeds.

The scheme is part of HCC’s Red Meat Development Programme (RMDP), a five-year strategic initiative to help develop the red meat sector in Wales which is funded as part of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

HCC’s flock genetics executive Gwawr Parry said: "We are delighted to welcome 22 new farms onto the hill ram scheme.

"We are really pleased to have recruited geographically diverse farms who are eager to improve their businesses by trying performance recording.

"Over the last few months we have tissue sampled over 6,000 ewes and 176 tups ready for the upcoming lambing season, where our flocks will be recording key data and information about their new-born lambs."

Gwawr added: "We are looking forward to opening a new Expression of Interest window in January to recruit the next cohort of hill ram scheme farmers.

"Farmers can express interest in the new year on the HCC website or by contacting HCC directly on 01970 625050 or info@hybucig.cymru."