By Debbie James

Edward Griffith was just 21 when his parents made him a partner in their farming business, gifting him the freedom to make decisions with the drive and fresh perspective of a new entrant.

After benefitting from that positive experience, Edward and his wife, Jackie, have followed the same path, giving their son Ellis the same opportunity at 21.

Ellis is now the main decision maker on the day-to-day running of the family’s beef and sheep enterprise.

“I think it is important for the next generation to become partners as soon as possible,’’ Edward reckons. It fuels ambition and allows a business to develop, he adds.

It has freed up his time to do other things, not least more recently to take on the role of NFU Cymru county chairman for Mid Gwynedd.

“I don’t have to worry about the cows and the sheep, Ellis takes care of what needs doing and I deal with the paperwork.’’

Edward is the third generation of his family to farm on the Llŷn Peninsula. His grandfather purchased Tyddyn Gwyn in 1935 and his parents, William and Helen, took over the running of the farm in 1958 and still live in the farmhouse.

“This is when the current business started,’’ Edward explains.

In 1969 his parents purchased Bodwi which was an adjoining farm and both farms have been farmed as one unit since then.

Edward married Jackie in 1988 and they set up their home at Bodwi where they have brought up their five children.

Bethan, the eldest, is a vet at a local practice, while Lowri is a secondary school teacher who married a local farmer and they have two young sons.

Ellis was the third and now lives in a cottage at Bodwi with his wife, Cain. Arthur, a civil engineer, currently works in London, and Sera is a trainee accountant with a local firm.

The Griffith’s farm 247 hectares which includes 113ha of rented and owned land on a holding 18 miles from Bodwi.

The farmland is grazed by a herd of 140 Stabiliser cows and their progeny and 1150 Suffolk-cross ewes and their lambs.

Up until 20 years ago, beef was produced from a commercial suckler herd of Continental-cross cows sired with Charolais and Limousin bulls. That changed when Edward visited America to learn more about the Stabiliser breed.

“We were struggling with calving difficulties and big calves not suckling,’’ he recalls.

With the Stabiliser’s track record for calving ease and docility and an efficient converter of grass to meat, Edward made the switch and has never looked back.

“We are running more cows now than we were back then but it takes less time and labour to look after them because they are so easy to manage.’’

It is a closed herd and this, combined with a programme of BVD and leptospirosis vaccination, and for pneumonia in calves, means that herd health status is excellent. The farm is also involved in a programme of Johne’s testing with the Scottish University Rural Colleges.

Calving gets underway from April 7 with a target to calve 80 per cent in the first three weeks of the nine-week block.

Some progeny are retained as replacements and others sold as bulling heifers or in-calf heifers. Any animals that don’t make the grade for breeding are fattened on the farm.

Lamb is produced from a flock of 1150 Suffolk-cross ewes, which are tupped to Abermax or Texel rams and lamb indoors in February.

Creep feeding lambs at grass in April and May means all lambs can be sold by the beginning of September, with the majority sold to Waitrose.

The family has taken advantage of their picturesque location by diversifying into tourism. Additional farm income is generated from a small caravan site and four holiday cottages.

As county NFU chairman, one of the issues now occupying Edward’s time is the changes to farm support.

He worries that the Sustainable Farming Scheme will see the bulk of much needed funding spent on advisers.

“I don’t see the sense in complicated schemes with advisers going to every farm, it is such a waste of money.’’