The third generation to farm at Pantfeillionen, Horeb, Llandysul, Ceredigion, are Lyn and Lowri Thomas. The family looks after 170 acres and rents a further 100 acres, with the land down to grass. 70 dairy cows, a few sucklers and calves which get sold on as store cattle, call these green hills home.
The way forward for the family is to maintain the small-scale ethos of the family farm and connect on a personal level with their customers who buy raw milk directly from the farm.
Passionate about the ground that feeds the cows, Lyn and Lowri understand the direct link between the environment and the health and welfare of the cattle.They don’t push the land too much and farm it sustainably. With stocking levels at about 0.8 cows per acre here, the family could keep more stock but know they’d need more fertilizer and more food for the cows. Staying sustainable is key for them.
Looking after the environment, the family don’t use a lot of fertilizer as farming on rock, with little topsoil, means the grass would burn on the south facing slopes. The earthworm population on the farm is healthy and the family compost farmyard manure, which they say is better for the ground.
Lyn and Lowri have also planted some trees to fill in gaps in hedgerows, including oak trees, crab apples, cherry trees, dogwood, willow and birch. Blackthorn hedges were also planted along fields that have been amalgamated and will provide wind shelter for the cows and also nesting habitats for farmland birds.
The wildlife on the farm is plentiful with kites, buzzards, owls, herons, woodpeckers, bats, frogs and foxes, rabbits and badgers as well as deer inhabiting the hedgerows and land that can’t be accessed with hedge cutters.
The family are keen to highlight how farming systems in Wales are different to the global representation. Traditional small family farms, looking after the land, are key to sustainability and tackling climate change.