AN innovative dairy farmer, who has invested in installing a robotic milking system which enables him to keep the dairy herd in production, has been announced as the winner of the 2015 Pembrokeshire FUW Countryside Business award.

Mathew Williams, 34, of Glyn Llewelyn, Llanycefn, Clynderwen, was presented with the award on Tuesday, December 1, at the Pembrokeshire County Executive Committee meeting in Haverfordwest.

The award is presented to an individual 40 years of age or under who has developed their own rural based business and the judges were looking for entries from a wide range of people including those who are farming in their own right; those who are providing a service to the agricultural sector or those who have started a rural based business.

Glyn Llewelyn is a family affair and is now in being farmed by the third generation of the Williams family. Mathew’s father John has been farming there for nearly 40 years and it was previously farmed by his father Jimmy. Mathew Williams, who has been farming since he left Gelli Aur College at the age of 18, is married to Rhinedd, a primary school teacher and they have two children.

Daughter Cadi is four years old and goes to Maenclochog School and son Guto has just turned two and already loves being out on the farm, Mathew says.

Speaking about why he has chosen to continue the family business, he said: “I farm because I don't know any different – it’s in my blood. I was out on the farm with my father from a very young age and knew exactly I wanted to farm Glyn Llewelyn when I grew up.”

FUW Pembrokeshire county chairman Hywel Vaughan, who was on the judging panel, said: “In presenting this award we hope to highlight the fantastic work which young people are doing to keep the rural areas of Pembrokeshire vibrant and economically active places.

“Mathew is one of these inspirational people we have here in the county and in order to recognise his tenacity and determination to make his business a success and keep the family rooted in farming we are honoured to present him with this award.”

The Pembrokeshire FUW Countryside Business award includes a cash prize, perpetual trophy and a year’s free membership with the FUW.

In partnership with his parents, John and Eunice, Mathew Williams farms 150 acres and runs a dairy herd of approximately 90 cows and also operates a successful, busy, contracting business, which includes slurry pumping and tankers, silage production, hedge cutting and digger work.

Mathew Williams, who now enjoys spending more time with his family rather than being in the milking parlour for six hours a day, said: “We were facing quite a few problems before deciding on the robot, such as not enough grazing land surrounding the farm plus a road going through the farm making it difficult with the grazing system.

“Our previous abreast parlour had come to the end of its life and therefore we needed to consider our options and decided to install a new robotic milking system.

“The robot gives us the flexibility needed to continue with our contracting business and I am not tied to a routine – not needing to milk at specific times during the day brings great advantages with it.

“The benefits with the robot are that the cows are milking up to four times a day and as such are producing more milk. They are also less stressed as they are working at their own pace and an added bonus is that I am now able to spend more quality time with the family.”

Despite the current problems facing the industry, he has a positive outlook on the future and high hopes for his young family.

“The dairy industry at the moment is struggling. Before the drop in milk price we were considering installing a second robot, but we then decided that it would be better not to put all our eggs in one basket and have gone down the route of rearing our calves.

“I'm hoping that things will improve in the milk industry in the near future and that my children will have the same opportunities I had to continue to farm Glyn Llewelyn.”