A Menter Moch Cymru initiative has rocketed a farmer’s daughter into the pig industry, where she has established a thriving pig fattening and direct meat sales business, Cig Bang Sion Cwilt.
Rhiannon Davies, from Llandysul, Wales, was given her first five weaners after winning a pig finishing competition run by Menter Much Cymru and Wales’ Young Farmers’ Clubs.
Alongside the pigs, Ms Davies was provided with training and one-to-one mentoring on topics such as day to day pig management, the marketing of her meat products, and regulatory issues such as animals in transit compliance.
On winning, Ms Davies was able to choose the breed of pig, where she opted for a Welsh pig. At the initiative’s close, Ms Davies took her batch of Welsh pig weaners to show at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.
Ms Davies said that she had always wanted to expand into pigs, but had never had the opportunity or gained the experience, as her family farm runs a beef and sheep enterprise. “So, to have the opportunity to have a go, with the benefit of a network of support, was extremely valuable,” she said.
She added: “When you are starting anything new you have to learn as you go along, but thanks to Menter Moch Cymru there was always someone there if I had a question I needed answering.”
Upon the launch of her new business, Ms Davies said that Menter Moch Cymru offered her many training course options: “There were so many courses, and, that really accelerated my knowledge – which I wouldn’t have got had it not been for Menter Moch Cymru.”
And Ms Davies has certainly hit the ground running with her pig meat business. Prior to the sale of her first five weaners, she had already bought in a further four and now operates a highly successful direct meat sales business from her family farm at Talgarreg, near Llandysul.
She buys in five batches of weaners a year, all bred in Ceredigion and processed at Tregaron abattoir, as she wanted her pigs to be ‘born, raised and processed in Ceredigion’. Ms Davies has also now switched from a Welsh pig to a Welsh x Pietrain and Saddleback x Pietrain, to reduce finishing times.
The animals are finished on a straw-shed system on her brother’s nearby farm and are fed on a diet of wheat and barley sourced from a farm in Ceredigion. She aims for a slaughter weight of 70-75kg liveweight for porkers and 80-90kg for pigs reared to produce bacon.
Following the success of her business, Ms Davies is now in a discussion group facilitated by Menter Moch Cymru that gives her the opportunity to meet up and share ideas with other pig produces on their own farms.
She has also signed up to the Menter Moch Cymru and Farming Connect ‘Measure to Manage’ online programme. Through which, Ms Davies will be able to compare the performance of her business to others’, as well as providing benchmarking data for the industry.
She explains: “It is especially important now to have those figures in front of you because the cost of feed has nearly doubled – we need to make sure we stay efficient and profitable.”