Dave Mantle, Glaisf Isaf, Llangynidr, Crickhowell
I first met Dave Mantle through Colin Price as Dave helped to supply some Talybont Welsh ewes with Lleyn lambs for display at the Welsh NSA event 2017. Having never knowingly been to a farm with Talybont ewes using a Lleyn ram I was keen to have a look.
Dave farms at Glaisf Isaf, Llangynidr with his wife Jane and son Kyle. Dave is a very enthusiastic stockperson who is very well known in the world of Talybont Welsh breeding.
The family work approximately 500 acres of ground which is a mixture of owned and rented and you can tell from the views that it runs up to 1200 foot. Dave runs suckler cattle alongside the sheep which is mainly made up of Talybont Welsh ewes with a flock of Texel x ewes which are lambed earlier. The Welsh ewe flock has always been run pure breeding replacements both for themselves and for sale. The Welsh ewe is very much suited to the hilly landscape but Dave has become concerned about the weight of his lambs and the limited markets for the smaller lamb hence he chose to use the Lleyn ram over some of his ewes.
So far Dave is happy with the results of his experiment. The Lleyn lambs were generally easily lambed. Dave describes how they got up to weight in good time and after advertising the lambs on Facebook, he had them all sold in one day. Dave is considering pulling the ewe lambs out in the future and breeding from them.
When choosing a Lleyn ram, Dave looks at the breed points first, as he wants his lambs away as soon as possible he likes to see some confirmation and a bit of size. “He must be correct on his legs and in his mouth to survive up here.” Says Dave. He has purchased rams privately from Colin & Julie Price.
They lamb mid March indoor for easier management and to avoid the testing weather. Ewes are fed a diet of silage, concentrate and fodder beet. With the challenging environment and climate Dave tries to keep a young flock hence every year he sells approximately 100 three and four year old ewes at breeding sales to breeders on lower ground who can take these ewes on for another couple of years. He is also well known for selling Taylbont rams at the annual sales. He aims to sell all stock at average prices and has a regular following of repeat buyers.
For the future the intention is to continue experimenting with the Lleyn over the Talybont ewe and possibly keep some of these crossbred ewe lambs for replacements. They may even look to replace or work alongside the Texel cross flock. Dave lambs these at the end of January to generate some cash flow in early May.
Dave notes “We need to look at grass fed lambs to cut costs, we need lambs to finish off grass. Currently the Welsh lambs are coming in late autumn and being fed as the grass has gone. In the long term we may need to accept that the lambs we sell are lighter but if they are gone off the farm sooner they will work out better carrying less feed costs”. The Lleyn cross lambs were born easily and were up and about quickly. They grew a bit quicker than the Welsh hence I could sell them off the farm sooner without the need to feed.