WINNER FOR SHEEP INNOVATOR
OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by: Shearwell Data
Gower Salt Marsh Lamb, Weobley Castle Farm, South Wales
Farming on a salt marsh common on the Gower Peninsular is not without its challenges, but Dan Pritchard has turned it into a unique selling point for his home-produced lamb.
Dan and his father, Roland run 1,000 ewes and 250 ewe lambs and their working lives revolve around the tides as for one week in four the common is submerged in water.
The tides dictate the timing of all the major jobs on the farm and sheep are moved up and down the marsh according to the tides and graze the entire common for one week in four. Two weeks are spent moving the sheep to low areas on the marsh away from the rising tide and the other week they are kept completely off the marsh.
There are no traditional grasses on the marsh but the sheep graze salt herbs. These are high in sodium and iron and change the taste of lamb reared on the marsh.
Although well known in France salt marsh lamb has only been identified as a speciality meat in the UK in recent years.
About 10 years ago the family teamed up with a neighbour and started selling their lamb under the Gower Salt Marsh lamb name. They formed a not-for-profit co-operative with a neighbour who is a butcher and Dan and his brother, Will, also took a butchery course and butchery facilities have been put in place on-farm.
The two producers are paid a £5/head premium and lamb is sold mainly direct from the farmhouse with visitors to nearby Weobley Castle providing a strong passing trade. They also supply local butchers and restaurants and whole carcases are delivered to butchers as way away as Bristol and Shepton Mallet.
About 70 per cent of the lambs are now sold under the brand with sales continually rising. This coupled with constantly improving management and genetics has ensured the business remains sustainable and profitable even without subsidies.
On winning the award, Dan said: I am totally shocked to be standing here holding this award. It means everything. So much goes on behind the scenes in farming and so many people are involved. It’s not just me. It’s a lifestyle but it’s a business and a way of enjoying what you do. This gives me the confidence I’m heading in the right direction.
The judges said about Dan: The judges praised Dan for turning what many would consider a liability into an asset and he is taking his product to the end user directly. After looking at every opportunity to push the farm forward he has a strong understanding of costs and how he will further grow his business.