Diversification opportunities for livestock producers, created by the expansion plans of two existing Welsh beef and poultry businesses, have sparked a surge of interest.

More than 70 farmers attended an event hosted by Farming Connect at which Pembrokeshire-based Natural Wagyu and Capestone Organics revealed strategies for growing their markets.

Natural Wagyu partners Rob Cumine and Will Prichard want to increase their supply of Wagyu to customers from six animals a week to 40 while Justin Scale of Capestone Organics is seeking to outsource the rearing of hundreds of thousands of free range and organic poultry.

Carys Thomas, Farming Connect’s regional development manager for south west Wales, said these opportunities were different from traditional concepts of farm diversification.

“More and more farmers are seeking diversification opportunities to add income to current income streams but these have historically centred on accommodation provision, tourism and adding value to food products," she said.

“Diversifying into other forms of livestock production provides another opportunity and uses a skill that farmers already have.’’

Capestone Organics is on course to produce 250,000 turkeys for the Christmas market this year, in addition to the 50,000 organic and free-range chickens it produces weekly.

Mr Scale said there was good potential for growth in the free-range sector as demand for higher welfare chicken increases; to meet future market requirements he has launched an ‘out-growers’ scheme.

“We have always grown our own chickens but once you reach 200 staff and our production levels, in a business like ours it gets unwieldy,’’ he told farmers attending the event at the Nantyffin Hotel, Llandissilio.

“It is a sustainable option for us to spread our breeding options.’’

Mr Scale is offering potential growers two options – to grow free range or organic birds.

There would be significant financial outlay – the free range option would require a £600,000 investment in infrastructure – but Capestone would in return offer growers a 10-year contract.

On a relatively small acreage of land, 15 acres for free range or five for organic, Mr. Scale said farmers could create a diverse and profitable enterprise that would add a significant amount to their bottom line.

In return for the investment, farmers would get a commitment from the company.

“We are looking at long term agreements if farmers are putting in the capital by building sheds,’’ said Mr Scale.

“If I could have 10 sites in place next year I would be delighted.’’

Natural Wagyu needs to increase its supply base of grass-fed Wagyus to meet growing demand.

Mr Cumine said the proposal offered farmers the opportunity to get closer to their customer.

Brexit offered an opportunity for Wagyu producers, he believed, because the current EUROP grid was one of the main hurdles for the breed.

“The EUROP grading system has been holding the Wagyu back, the sooner we forget this system the better it will become for the Wagyu because for this breed it is all about the taste and the marbling score.’’

Natural Wagyu is seeking to establish a producer group using genetics supplied by the company.

Mr Cumine described the formula as a modern take on a co-operative with Natural Wagyu sharing the risks and rewards with producers.

Farming Connect has a wide range of services to support the diversification process, including one-to-one surgeries, the advisory service or membership of an Agrisgôp group to develop ideas with likeminded people.

“I would urge anyone who is considering diversifying to tap into this available support by visiting our website or by contacting their local development officer,” said Carys Thomas.

Farming Connect are hosting two diversification seminars to help producers find out more about alternative livestock. Visit them at:

•The Fforest Inn, Llanfihangel-nant-Melan – February 21 at 7.30pm, or

•The Hand Hotel, Llangollen – February 22 at 7.30pm.