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Welcome to the
~ 'ORGANIC ARAN-LAMBs' ~
The Reference content of 'Organic Aran-Lamb'
- Source One - 'The Welsh Mountain Sheep Breed. -
Fact's takem from original material information
The Flock Book of Welsh Mountain Sheep.
Volume XXI - 1931.
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It seems almost a fantasy. Nearly five years on the Internet, with hundreds of weekly visitors from all over the world. Still growing, still getting busier by the week. We have groups of students, of all ages, on 'virtual' field trips to the mountains, the countryside of North Wales through the images on our web-site. Although we are happy about that, we reflect often that we were originally conceived to be, a 'commercial' web location selling my 'farm reared *Organic* Aran-Lamb'. In the new millennium we have become a multi subject content web location with 'rich content' and veried stories and news pages. - Busy, being the result of our web pages having topical and interesting content, simply means that we have hundreds of interested weekly visitors. Those who visit are from distant lands, from Japan, Australia and South America and it means they will maybe, never be potential customers, but there is one thing that is happening. 'Organic Aran-Lamb' is one of the most effective ambassadors 'world-wide' for Wales. Through our web presence people, who have never heard of Wales, become aware of our land and nation. Because of our positive promotion of the Welsh countryside and the potential for holidays and visiting we are enlarging the economic potential moths, years, decades into the future. There are people who visit our web-site who have discover Wales for the first time, who discover that it was of 'North Wales' that J.R.Tolkin was thinking, as he wrote the epic 'Lord of the Rings' The area of Gwynedd, where we are situated, was his original concept for 'middle earth'. There are so many other authors who have used Wales as the foundation for their stories and litrature. Even the fact or fantasy of 'King Arthur' is almost a real part of our history. A man who did exist, who did travel the footway's and bridle paths in times gone by was that once and future king. To those of us who are building the future of this web-site, the reason for there being global visitors is unimportant. That there are visitors is the most important, they make the web-site used and effective. In the course of a week, or month, we do get potential customers when we least expect them. That is what we really do need to recognise. There have been numerous occasions in the last few years, when people, who have found us when surfing in North America, or Europe, have placed an order. One customer found us from America, ordered a lamb and had it delivered to his paerent's in Cardiff. South Wales. The same week.
You can never say where and who will be a potential customer. It follows naturally that one develops the attitude - It matters not who visits, it is impossible to say who, or where, the next sale will be coming from. So who visitors are is unimportant. - However, we are providing a web location with a wealth of knowledge about the Welsh Nation. Of course the Tourist Potential for the economic activity of all of Wales as a nation in its own right is important. There have been comments by media commentators ranging from "strongly nationalistic" to calling our web location "eccentric". Both comments are accurate and complimentary. Being a traditional Welsh farm with ten generations of heritage is a foundation to be proud of, in a world where things are changing, where tradition and history seem to have little value. The essence of this web-page is in total dedication to the past. It is built with a knowledge of what has gone before. What makes our 'Organic Aran-Lamb' so individual in its size, flavour and lean meaty, sensible portion's, for family home catering. To be referred to as 'eccentric' is one of the finest compliments in a web environment with little creativity and even less originality. Thought provoking the comment about our eccentricity. In Websters Dictionary we are thereby described as - "Deviating from the usual or accepted pattern; unconventional in manner or appearance, odd!" - We can live with that, what a wonderful way to be remembered. Not only do we have the original and unique 'Organic Food' web-site. We have something even more important in the world of commerce and business development - People remember us! That must be all that we can ask for in a world that Alvin Tofler predicted would become 'transient' by the new millennium! What more can we ask for, than to be memorable. Timely as a cue into the rest of this web-page content. Some memorable content concerning the farm - CwmOnnen. The breed of lamb we sell, why it is distinct and so different and why it is the probably and by tradition the finest for the family table. One final 'memorable' point - You can only buy 'Real Welsh Lamb' in Wales. - Naturally it follows - You can only buy 'Organic Aran-Lamb' from Maldwyn Thomas at CwmOnnen Farm with all its heritage in every kilo.
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ABOUT BALA AND THE AREA.
There are people who have been travelling from England into Wales every weekend for a lifetime. There are those who leave their busy urban life and travel into the mountains to retire. Seeking the peace of the countryside lifestyle. More importantly, there are those who travel out of Wales every day, week, lifetime. The wings of the Airbus Range of Civil Aircraft are built in North Wales. From hamlet's, town's in valley's and the sea-side town's along the hundreds of miles of rugged and yet magnificent coast. Here you can be clinging to a road cut into a five hundred foot cliff of granite, the next minute the rugged rocky coastline sweep's away inland leaving the road to run alongside mile of magnificent golden beaches with magnificent bright blue clean sea. It is here that you find some of the cleanest beaches in Europe. Not just in the United Kingdom. Then there are the mountain's. Not safe or lazy, by no means places for beginners. It was in Snowdonia that some of the finest rock climbers of the world in the last fifty years, practised and perfected their skills. You need only travel into the Ogwen Vally on any weekend, summer or winter, to see the two man hike tents pitched up the slopes at the foot of the mountains. It is not possible to get closer, or nearer to death or high excitement , than in these difficult and complex 'hills' to those who live in Napal. However, these mountains have something quite different to any mountains anywhere in the world. They have sharp and demanding clif-faces, but they have the weather of a temperate climate. Being broken down each and every hour of the day, week, month, year, millennium - What is hard grey granite. Some of the hardest rock the geologist can find. - Bends and submits to the rain and the winds from the west and north, according to the season. Very rarely we have south winds with red dust blown over the heather and high pasture. Here is the Sahara dust storms finalising their travels north on the mountains that have given their name to the geological time scale - Cambrian!
And the dictionary meaning of Cambrian - Of Wales; of the earliest Palaeozoic period. Before the Silurian Rocks were formed. What better heritage could one have than this degree of 'traceability'? Wales is of the past, yet it's of tomorrow also. Along with the wings of an Airbus are other small achievements in the Welsh nation and industrial zones. Children in Italy sitting down to their Coco-Pops for breakfast will never know - Every 'snap' crackle and 'pop' are made in Wales. Then there are the fashions of Wales. The Interior Decoration, the style of Laura Ashley. A business built and established in Wales for the Global economy. So many made in Wales, sourced in Wales, grown in Wales, the mind grinds onwards putting product names to Welsh places, people, inventore. Then finally it must be the people. A proud silent nation with a history of being abused. It is possible to go back to before the early Roman occupation to find traces of anguish and toils. The industrial Revolution was powered by the coal of the welsh mines. It was finally the slates of the Snowdonian Mountain's which cover more roof area's in Europe, North America and the world. A visit to the slate quarries, the hole which once were mountains. There are mountains lying on the rooks beams of houses from Shanghai to Rio. From Gibraltar to Dublin. Millions of tons cover the roof's of the Houses of England. While in those houses there are families who have a heritage which within their grand-parents and great, great, grand-parents is the link the connection with Wales. The son or daughter who left these mountains one, two, three, to a thousand years ago. The links with Wales are direct and timeless. To visit Wales it to travel into a different world or different values and expectations. The towns and cities of Wales are now becoming 'playgrounds' for visitors, which the country itself starts, at times to resemble a great theme park, if those with the money, the investors in the London Stock Exchange had their way. Wales has no Stock Exchange. It never did have. The heritage has been sold and sold again far away, the money from the deals and sales of slates went into banks far away also. Wales has never had control of the business and economy of its own mountains. Until now. With the Welsh Assembly. With the development of our own resources again, this time of our own making, we shall see a wealth we have always searched for. Searched the world for. Some of us went to Patagonia to find, Australia, North America, Canada and South Africa, all have their Welsh communities. Some even speaking Welsh. Finally, it is only a matter of time for the historian, the reader of past times, before the importance of Bala becomes apparent. The history of Bala is a timeless tale, worth telling in a minute. I might be able to do it in less! You will find the town of Bala on any map of North Wales, slap bang in the middle of North Wales. It sits at the head of the Bala Lake, called Llyn Tegid in Welsh. Named after 'Tegid Foel' who was the King and Consort of 'Cerridwen', earth mother and father of Morfan and Afagddu. Afagddu nbeing the ugliest of children. Another story for a future entry into this resource. Tegid Foel was from the Penllyn area which encompasses Bala and its surrounding valley's. The town also sits at the bottom eastern corner of the Snowdonia National Park. Few people realise that the present town of Bala was established by one Roger de Mortimer with a Royal Charter in 1310. His instructions from the King being - "To tame the rebellious Penllyn district". However, by the reign of the Tudor Kings, Bala was a "little poor market". All things go in cycles of prosperity and anguish. Bala has suffered over the centuries a similar sequence of prosperity and hardship. The eventual and most prosperous era developed in Bala in the late 18th and early 19th century. At this time the town became the centre of the Welsh cloth industry. It was in the reign of George III when the Royal involnement was at its highest. Would you believe the claim to fame? - It was white fine woven Bala stockings that 'Bertie III' wore to ease his rheumatism! In that period there was prosperity of a kind. The demand for the Bala cloth was so great that almost all of Bala's women were involved. With a strong Christian Work Ethic the religious heritage of the town was important. Bala was one of the centres of the Methodist revival of the 18th and 19th centuries. Thomas Charles, who pioneer of the concept of the Sunday School movement was a minister in the town. It was Charles who was inspired to establish the 'Bala Bible Society'. A direct response to the actions of the 16-year-old Mary Jones, a girl who walked 25 miles over the mountains to buy her famous bible in 1804.
The Chapel or Nonconformist Movement became a mainstay, at times, of the belief's within the majority of the population in the area. However, seeking religious freedom in 1682, Edward Jones and 17 Quaker families from Bala settled the area of Merion, Pennsylvania. There were many who travelled away from their homeland. There are town with the name Bala in Pennsylvania, USA. As well as the US there was the township of Bala in Ontario, Canada, called the cranberry capital of the State of Ontario. Other loc ations throughout Patagonia have place names which remind one of hamlets and villages in the homeland, no longer on the map. The little village surrounding CwmOnnen Farm had cottages and a resident population big enough to support a brewery at the bottom of the lane from the farm. It was the people from Bala area who were among the first Welsh settlers in the United States and their town was renamed Bala-Cynwyd in 1886. It was Michael D Jones of Bala who was the prime mover for the founding of the Welsh Colony in Patagonia in 1865, though he remained in Bala to establish the Bala-Bangor Theological College. Some Welsh is still spoken in Patagonia today and every year, as has happened for decades, we have our annual visitors from that colony returning to their roots. This has been most marked in the young population who come home to seek and meet those who are the original family from which they are descended. Though only 41 when he died in 1899, Bala man, Tom Ellis, as Liberal MP for Merionethshire, was a dedicated activist for the interests of Wales. It was his heavy involvement in the movement for a Welsh National Library which brought about that valuable resource being established. Little recognised is the effects of another kind of spiritual presence which was evident in Bala thoughout the later aprt of the nineteenth century. It was under the aegis of Squire Price of the Rhiwlas Estate that the first distillery of Welsh whisky was established. The Squire was buried in the village of Llanfor beneath a commemoration of the racehorse 'Bendigo'. A talisman of his luck, for the horse saved him from financial ruin. An event commemorated on his tombstone, winning considerable money and rescuing the Squire from financial ruin - "As to my latter end I go, To win my Jubilee, I bless the good horse Bendigo; Who built this tomb for me". Bala at one end of Bala Lake has a village of great renown through the years for its male voice choir's. The men of Llanuwchllyn are legendary, this village at the western head of the lake has a long history of song, maintained in our times by the world-wide acclaimed 'Aran Mail Voice Choir' - 'Côr Godre'r Aran'. There is an interesting old communion plate at the church showing the story of the Temptation in relief and there is also a recumbent effigy of a mail-clad knight of the 14th Century in the church. Sir O.M.Edwards and his son Sir Ifan ap Owen Edwards were born in Llanuwchllyn. The latter founded Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh Youth Movement in 1922. Finally, the Aran Range dominates the southern end of the Snowdonian National Park. It is here that some of the finest International Motor Rally special stage roads are to be found. Names that cunjour images for drivers an spectators, Coed-y-Brenin, The Dovey, Penmachno. Almost legendary, their names conjure images of high speed, rasping exhaust note's, and cold frozen millions of spectator's, who for decades have braved the frost of November to catch a glimpse of their hero's, from Carlson, Hopkirk, to the modern day master's of speed, skid and crumples! The biggest soectator sport in the United Kingdom happens every November in the Welsh Mountains. There is so much to see do and enjoy in the 'value of life' on every street in every town. In the words of the song -
"We keep a welcome in hillside,
We keep a welcome in the dale.
This land you knew, will keep a welcome,
till you come home again to Wales".
You can more on Welsh History -
HERE. Then again try HERE. And again - EnJoY!
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THE 'FLOCK BOOK' - WHAT IT MEANS.
It is important to look at the anticipated life of a man to see the value in the 1930's Flock Book's that are still available. Possibly still on special request at the Welsh National Library. The average long life of sheep can be about five to seven years, the ram lasts a little longer. If we take as the average five year's across the flock it follows that from the details relating to the information shown in the details from the 1930/31 Flock Book, it is but twelve generation's or so up to this. If one considers that new blood enters the flock about every nine or ten years, it follows that our Ram's have been but seven over the period. Of those seven, four have been of my selection, and two or three was of my fathers selection. With the Ewe flock at its old volume before going 'Organic' of thirteen hundred breeding ewe's we could keep the strain and characteristics and the qualities up to the pre-war (1940) standard. Since going 'Organic' there has been a reduction in breeding Ewe's allowed at CwmOnnen. We are allowed only three hundred and fifty breeding ewe's and that makes a big difference to the breeding programme. We are providing a higher level of attention and maintenance. Over time we shall be seeing our past and present flock characteristic's become even more consolicated. Size, shape and leanness being but a small part of what we are interested in.
We are keen to see the flock do well on our raw and exposed high grazing. It is the mixture of wild flower's, wild herb's and fresh mountain water which makes 'Organic Aran-Lamb' the superior product it is. Contrary to what the Advertising Standards Authority may have thought with their recent judgement against the 'Soil Association' over the wording about happier and better conditions for farm animal, as I have just described. In a little over six years the level of the Flock at CwmOnnen has dropped over four times - It is obvious to a fool that those we have now are getting more of the same, but more individually. The logic in the world is being turned upon its head. What was right, is now seen as wrong. What was wrong is now seen as right. Out on the mountain ridges these bureaucratic rule's compounded by the ideas of the industry power broker's pale into insignificance. It is the settlement and peace of the animals which helps their development. The lack of worry, wild dog's, foxes that kill young lambs for the fun of it and the dozen of more crow's hanging around the field where the lambs are being born to fight over the after-birth. It is these crows which still pick at the young lambs faces making them blind. Nature is more cruel than the towns-folk could even begin to understand.
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THE 'RAM' EFFECT - HOW EWE'S ARE EFFECTED.
The Ewe's body clock's in the CwmOnnen 'Flock of Welsh Mountain Sheep' are seemingly quite strictly regulated together by by their relationships, (say all cousins) and the season's. They come on to the ovulation cycling, or 'heat' as some call it, within the same few days each year. They have had no contact with Ram's up to the Ram's release into the flock, although they can see them in adjoining fields. The slow ovulating Ewe's can be stimulated to start ovulation by the introduction of highly persistent young inexperienced Ram's. Or what are called in some areas of sheep farming 'teasers', those excited youngsters introduced into the company of the flock are on a fairly short learning curve. Like all animals, even humans, Rams produce a chemical substance named by the chemists as a pheromone, the strong and drifting smell of which stimulates the onset of a strong desire, in some almost a frenzy, technically termed oestrous. Pheromones are located in the structure of Ram's wool and in teasers for a short time. When Ewes and Rams are in constant contact the sight or the smell of pheromones are much less effective at inducing ovulation. Ewes that are not cycling when the Rams (or teasers) are introduced will ovulate within three to four days. This initial ovulation could be a 'silent heat', which cannot sometimes be detected by the inexperienced Rams.
A 'silent heat' is characteristic of probably the first ovulation of puberty. It is here that the performance of good Ram's is essential. It is the sense to seek out, to cover all the flock, in some cases more than once that is needed. The coloured markers, fixed to a light harness on the Ram's breast-bone area, help to identify which Ewe's have been served by which Ram, when more than one Ram is loose in the flock. Following this previously mentioned 'silent heat', that there will be maybe two or more normal breeding or oestrous peaks, a time when the Ewe is fertile. As a general rule Ewe's have their cycling or oestrous peak's around '18 days' apart. Then the few un-served in the remainder of the flock could hit their oestrous peaks around day 25 from the start of the covering period. Ewes that do not conceive at either of these times could maybe cycle again after approximately a further 17 days. However, this lateness can be an added chore at lambing time, stretching the lambing season out over two months, when if all have been served at the same time, the lambing season can be short and economic on manpower and time. At lambing the constant attention on the hour, or more, reviewing almost the whole flock maintains their security and freedom from predators as mentioned in the last section. It can be expected that 60 to 70 per cent of Ewes will conceive at their first normal oestrous peak. Of the Ewes that don't, 60 to 70 per cent of them again will do so at the next cycle and so on until the end of the joining. It is worth remembering that under poor seasonal conditions, Ewes that are stimulated to ovulate by the Ram's effort and do not conceive at the first normal oestrous may fail to exhibit normal oestrous at their next cycle. Instead, they revert to an oestrous peak and exhibit a non-detectable 'silent heat' at a subsequent cycle. For this reason, it is important to have the correct number of young, healthy Ram's with the Ewe's right from the start of joining. When teasers are used to stimulate the onset of oestrous, Rams must be with the Ewes before the first cycle. This normally means putting the important breeding Rams out on about day 14 after the introduction of teasers. The great value of the Ram effect is in the synchronisation of oestrous activity. Large numbers of Ewes ovulate, conceive and subsequently lamb over a short period of time and in concentrated bursts. This maximises conception rates in a controlled joining. It increases the effectiveness of predator control and other lambing management procedures, ensures lambs are of more even size at marking, weaning and first shearing and improves the likelihood of a majority of maiden Ewes reaching the required weight at their first joining. Getting the sequence and cycles to play in harmony and compliment each other is the skill of the sheep farmer. At CwmOnnen we lamb 70% of the whole flock in about three week's. That remainder 30% follow in within the next seventeen days, and it is only about less than 10% who delay out beyond the middle of the month of April. We have then three months to get the market weight and body conformity established.
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'WELSH MOUNTAIN SHEEP' SHOULD JUDGE ACCORDINGLY.
The point's when judging cattle and sheep are quite uniform throughout the whole range of breed's. What changes is the individual requirements for each breed. Slightly different expectations brought about by the different needs and expecations of the sheep farmer. In the Welsh Mountain breed, the qualities look for by the judge are uncahnged over a hundred years. Below is the judges check-list from 1930. Much the same as today. What the judges are looking for is the objectives of the breeders. Predominately in the Welsh Mountain Sheep is the small head and the small feet or shanks. Neither of these have any value at the point of sale. Likewise, the small conformation is ideal for the home domestic market 'Organic Aran-Lamb' has entered. So many things have come together in our favour. The advent of the Internet has given us our web-site as a 'Virtual Storefront' - The our lamb's after hundreds of years of breeding the strain we produce has just come right in terms of size. Small lambs are tasty and have no waste. That suits both out business and our customers. Possibly the most important of developments has been the establishment and launch of the 'Organic' production criteria. As I have said before, or pasture is so steep, it was impossible for us to do any other farming but traditional 'Welsh Hill Farm' - The Welsh Mountain Breed' is just the ideal product for the market we have been building. Our limits are boundless. We can meet any trading expectations for years to come. All we need to be sure of, is our customer's are completely satisfied. That happens through a close and constant contact. We have the mean - You can see here the high quality we are breeding to just to say - We sell Real 'Organic' Aran-Lamb from the Welsh Hillside's and mountains.
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'TRACEABILITY'? - HERE IS A UNIQUE PICTURE.
David Thomas, my grand-father, returned from California in the 1920's after being there long enough to become an American Citizen. A status he never revoked - decades later he died as an American. In Californian he had been an Assay Manager, at the Gold Exchange in San Francisco. He had also, in his early days, worked up in the Klondike and was I am sure more than ready to settle down. Surprisingly, he was one of the few to return home to Wales. The farm obviously offered him a better life than the new world. The thought's of his home country must have stayed clear in his mind. Obviously CwmOnnen offered him the potential to leave something for the future, the family he had thought about often when across on the other side of the Atlantic. However, there is much evidence that he took his farming very seriously. He also took the rearing of the CwmOnnen Flock as a major task for the mature and later years of his life. That he could afford to buy the best foundation stock, Ram's and Ewe's from the best flocks is in little doubt. He searched for the blood-line's he wanted to blend in the fat-stock and Ram Sales throughout the whole of North Wales, he travelled far and wide of that there is little doubt. There is also little doubt, that once he started establishing his blood-line, he had in mind his perfect ideal the final 'Welsh Mountain Lamb'. He almost had in mind the 'small' market lamb's that have become so popular at the start of a new millennium. Almost uncanny! You will see in the entry marked below in the Association 'Flock Book' how he was in 1931 breeding from his own Ewe's with his own Ram #3665/B5. These may have been the third generation from his original stock acquisitions. You can also see, how in the other farms, they are taking Ewe's from a number of place's, still looking for that ideal 'Welsh Mountain Sheep' of today. We had it then in CwnOnnen - We have them now. Thanks to the American - David Thomas and his far-sighted perception of what his grand-son, and great, great-grandson's would one day need. Is it any wonder that his photograph is at the bottom of this web-page. To David Thomas is this whole web-site dedicated. - Diolch Taid.
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MANAGEMENT OF EWES AND LAMBS.
We have travelled through the the area, the importance of the Ram , to the ovulation of the Ewe's and we are now at those expensive times. The dark day's before the light nights, when crows, foxes and even the local village dog's, running wild, can cause havoc and 'loss' of both life and finance. Each lamb is this years revenue. At a few days old, they are worth very little. However, pass into mid summer and you start to see them worth live, twice their weight in ponds or dollars. The most serious step out of baby lamb stage is weaning time. It is a crucial period in the management of ewes and their off-springs. When it comes to the separation it can be stressful for both lambs and the ewe. At this time the 'Management Goals' should be to keep the situations and events that cause stress as low a level as possible, no dog's chasing. No shepherd and his dog worrying by moving and disturbing. Keeping calm and cool on the farm is important at this time. If you manage to keep hiker's and their free running, off the lead, dogs out of the nursery field. This will ensure that you are reducing incidence of stress and disease and in fact all health problems to a minimum. It is important to take care of each ewe as the only one. This peace and relaxing environment will make sure that ewes and their lambs are peaceful allowing the lambs to play in groups in the sunshine, giving them the time and peace to grow at a normal rate. To new farmers and students there will always be that question. When do you wean the lambs? The actual Time of weaning is specific to each sheep farmers own circumstances and of course their type of production system. Weaning time for the extensive type of production system on a forage based program, maybe between four to five months old. In the intensive lambing systems, lambs are commonly weaned at an early age. At CwmOnnen the ewe's know the time and the best method and even the best fine grass in different parts of the large fields. I have read of Midwestern American Producers being usually involved in their intensive type of production system, the pressure is on to wean as swiftly as possible, meaning that they wean at early ages. However, Lambs should be a minimum of 50 to 60 days - 2 month's. or be up to 40 odd pounds before weaning. Their mothers peak milk production occurs from three to four weeks after lactation. It is beyond this period milk production can decrease, regardless of other factors such as twins, weather. Even disturbance of the flock through external forces or events.
We suffer with low flying military aircraft. A Hercules at under a hundred feet coming up the valley causes panic and fear among the 'gang' of young lambs playing on the mound in the corner of the field. After panic and scattering in all directions they take some time to settle down again. The mohters on the other hand are used to the thunder of the four engines, and the big dark shadow that advances up the field. Therefore, in intensive systems, where inputs are high and pasture availability may be limited, it is usually a good practice to wean around 60 days of age. However, if pasture is abundant, internal parasites are not a problem and the lambs are creep fed, no harm is done by leaving the lambs on the ewes for more than 60 to 70 days. At CwmOnnen, frightened lambs dive under ewes of their own size to suckle after they have been frightened. In the CwmOnnen conditions we leave them to settle to their own timetable for weaning. Waiting till later to wean can be less stressful on the little lambs and their mothers. The Management of Ewes becomes a serious concern at weaning time. Making sure they are feeding lambs and comfortable is a priority. The eye is always watching for the ewe with a mastitis problems. Ewes with damaged udders have decreased, or no production potential in future years. They also have little value to sell on in market. Their own route is for the sale of Mutton. With all these points in mind, in an early weaning program, it is crucial to prevent mastitis. Some believe that the easiest way to prevent mastitis is to decrease or halt milk production in the mother. This can be accomplished naturally by lowering the crude protein and energy content of the diet, and sometimes water intake by the ewe. In the mountains we leave them to set their own pace with their lambs. If they think they should be weaned, they kick them away or move round upon them. This is surly, like all habits, set in the behaviour of the flock. Like an old ewe will show young mothers some of the quick tricks, or the swift route to another part of the mountain. If you are feeding cereal remember that grain feeding to lactating ewes should be reduced from about 7 to 14 days before weaning is to start. For the last five to seven days before weaning, no grain should be fed to the ewes. Average to good quality hay can be fed up to three to four days before weaning. For the last few days the lambs are suckling, ewes should be fed a low protein grass hay or straw. On the mountains of North Wales, the Mountain Sheep can pass through the weaning stage with little trouble out in the meadows. Even with 'organic' farming we can produce thick lush grass at the ideal time on our lower enclosed pasture. There are many books available on the subject of weaning. Just as there are many different methods. What I have tried to do here is give the student or interested reader a rough idea of the basic needs and objectives. Finally, in the Mountains of North Wales with our sheep bred for the climate and the availability of fresh feed, the product feeding systems are not common. It is only a hundred years ago in the valley's that farmer cut the saplings and copse woods and hedgerows down and left them lying. The sheep stripped the bark from the saplings and shoots for nourishment. We feed them when things are that bad. With 'Organic' system, we now bring them in, under cover, when the snows and the winter rain's come. Things have changed in twenty years. They are still changing. Getting easier? No. Getting more organised - Yes!
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THE ANIMAL BREED OF SHEEP General. - (Welsh Mountain)
If we take time to review the origins and uses of 'sheep' we will be able to identify their value to human life and the additional products they have provided to improve our existence. The domestication of sheep started some 12,000 years ago. The objective seems to have been, to produce an animal that was more docile, calm and peaceful and more flexible to flocking and control than the wild sheep seemed to be when being trained to fit man's needs. Sheep proved to be very adaptable to a wide range of treatment, control and environments. Domestication achieved, they spread across many continent's and developed with the help of selected breeding, into a range of types and behavioural qualities. The sheep of our millennium are found from cold continental areas of northern Europe, and into the dry desert's of Asia. They are also, in different breeds found right through to the tropics. Every continent and even on isolated islands in the North Atlantic. Mankind has developed his use for the products from sheep into many components of life. They provide Meat - Wool - for clothing. Skins - for special use in garments and wearing apparel, clothing, footwear, housing and saddles. They also provide Milk - from which we make some fine cheese. Then there is their Offal - from which we manufacture a wide range of products and pharmaceuticals.
In the new millennium the world sheep populations is tending to be on the decrease, due to a number of important reasons such as; Our lessening desire for wool garments, floor coverings such as carpets. The main reason being the materials we make from their coats has primarily gone out of fashion. So the demand for wool is low, resulting in a global world surplus. There are also other disadvantages to keeping sheep, they have too many predators. These have gone on the increase by becoming protected by environmentalists. The final reason for their reduction is that sheep meat is not eaten some cultures and countries which traditionally consumed them in the modern world. It is valuable to not, New Zealand, major sheep producer in the 1950's and 60's have needed to change with the changing market for their meat and bi-product's. Their sheep population has dropped from 70 million at the start of the 1980s down to 47 million by the end of the century. The production is not likely to increase in the forseeable future.
Even with all our information technology tools, there are a number of different theories regarding the origin's of the domestic sheep. There is some evidence that they originated from out of the Mouflon breed. Two wild populations of mouflons still in existence. There are the Asiatic Mouflon still found in the mountains of Asia Minor, the Middle East and southern Iran. The second flock is found in Europe. The European mouflon which the only existing members are to still be found on the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica. (Known By: Muflone (Italian), Corsican mouflon, European mouflon, musimon, musmon, Sardinian mouflon.)
It is red-brown with a dark back-stripe, light colored saddle patch and underparts. The males are horned and the females are horned or polled. It is has been successfully reintroduced into central Europe, including Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovak Republics, and Romania. Asiatic mouflon is interesting for the reason of origins. Some hypothesize the European mouflon developed from the first domestic sheep in Europe. That they were allowed to become feral and that all sheep are actually descendants of the Asiatic mouflon. This may be so. The highly developed world-wide racing pidgin, when left to survive in the wild, or in city colonies in big cities, can in just a few generations go feral by returning to the Rock Dove of Asia Minor. Likewise the domestic cat going feral become larger in conformation and returns to the tabby coloring of the European Wildcat. Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated.
An archaeological dig in central Iran in the 1980's produced a statuette of a woollen sheep suggesting that selection for woolly sheep had started over 6000 years ago. The common features of today's sheep already appearing in Mesopotamian and Babylonian art and literature by the 3000 B.C. It is interesting to note that the selection of sheep for wool type, flocking instinct and other behaviour became economically important traits in past centuries. The results have meant that more than 200 distinct breeds of sheep now occur world-wide.
There is even a 'black' form of the Welsh Mountain Sheep. The Blackfaced Welsh Mountain is also another version of the breed. The identified advantages of mixing breeds has resulted in an increasing the number of synthetic or what we could call composite breeds. As they say, the jury is still out, on the advantages. It will be time and generations before the major disadvantages will be recognised. As with all domesticated sheep, the exact origins of the Wiltshire Horn breed is obscure, although skeletons found at the excavations of a Romano-British farm at Rockbourne Down in Wiltshire and other stone age sites indicate the presence of similar sheep which stood a mere 2 inches shorter than the modern Wiltshire. Many consider the origins to lie with the European Moulflour or wild sheep already mentioned, that these were introduced to Britain by the Romans. Others say that the Phoenicians bartered them for copper and tin from the mines of South West Britain, although there is no mention of this in any contemporary record documents from those times.
The truth of the breeds' introduction is never likely to be known and it is not until the 18th Century that hard documentary evidence emerges that indicates the dominance of the Wiltshire, or Western, Horn in the lowland sheep walks of Wiltshire. The land there varies from being rich in the valleys and poor on the hilltops and was populated by Olde Wiltshire Horned Sheep. Common grazings were tended by the village shepherd and the sheep returned each night to be penned on arable land. A contemporary writer, Luccock,
Sheep. An Essay on Wool - Luccock J - LBS 1809 637.6 noted in 1794: "The traveller will observe how well the animals that graze the Wiltshire Downs, in their structure and their habitude, are suited to the soil. These farms require an animal lithe and active, able to pass without injury over a large space in a little time; to climb without difficulty the most abrupt steeps; to endure the heat of summer without shelter and to subsist on the herbage which it could crop from the driest downs. The flock had to travel far on such pastures from morning to evening and in circumstances like these everyone who observes the Wiltshire Horned breed of sheep will find it adapted to its structure, disposition and lightness of fleece." He also notes: "The sheep that used to be kept on the downs were the Wiltshire Horned ones with large head and eyes, chest tolerably wide and deep, back straight, legs looking somewhat awkwardly long and bones too large. The fleece weighed about 2lbs and the ewe had not any wool under her belly."
In the 1950s Mr. E. H. Lane Poole investigated the origin of these sheep in their native country and noted: "Wiltshire has long been pre-eminent for its flocks of sheep and 18th Century writers were ecstatic about the incredible numbers they saw grazing on Salisbury Plain". He asserts that sheep in the Middle Ages were classified in two types; those carrying long wool represented by the Lincoln and Cotswold breeds and those with the short staple derived from the mountain sheep of Wales and located in England in the counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire. "It is from the Welsh Mountain Sheep that the Wiltshire flocks with a medium wool are thought to have originated", he claims.
Although no description has survived, the Middle Ages had evolved a distinctive breed. Davis ("A General View of Agriculture in Wiltshire, 1794 - 18") observes that its very large size was the result of judicious breeding from a smaller animal.
It is interesting to compare the main features of the 18th Century Wiltshires, as recorded by an eminent contemporary writer on livestock, with those of their modern counterparts. Finally, there is one distict advantage to having a flock of Welsh Mountain Sheep. They graze individually, they wander alone or with their lambs over their entire area of home range. They are extremely territorial, their habit of always feeding on one side of a mountain becomes a flock behaviour. They do not wander off in all directions. They stay on their home territory. This is a unique safty quality in their behaviour. There are no other breeds which have this valuable natural attitude.
Some contact points which may be helpfull.
Welsh Hill Speckled Face
Morris Marshall & Poole,
Bank House, Great Oak Street,
Llanudloes, Powys SY18 6BW
Tel: 01686 440279
Contact: Mr R Griffiths, Secretary
Welsh Mountain Sheep Society - |
Hill Flock Section
P O Box 8, 'Gorseland',
North Road, Aberystwyth,
Ceredigion SY23 2HE
Tel: 01970 636688
Contact: Mr W G M Jones, Secretary
Welsh Mountain Sheep Society|
52 Ffordd Celyn, Denbigh,
Clwyd LL16 5UU
Tel: 01745 814289
Contact: Mr M Voyle Erw Myrddin,
Welsh Half Bred Sheep |
Sheep breeders association
Tel: (01691) 860336
Fax: (01691) 860571
Brynteg. Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant
Oswestry. Shropshire SY10 0AW
|[Identifier Section 10]|
THE ENVIRONMENT for 'Organic Aran-Lamb'.
The climate of North Wales is classed as 'temperate'. The high mountains, although seeming high, are but hill's in comparison to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, The Rocky Mountains of North America, The European Alpine environment. Wales highest mountain is 'Snowdon' in the Snowdonian National Park, height 1,086 weters or 3,560 feet. The National Park is an area in which CwmOnnen Farm, the home of 'Organic Aran-Lamb' is situated. Snowdon - In Welsh is called 'Yr Wyddfa' and the area 'Eryri', the home of the Eagle. Notice the welsh spelling of the word the English use with the same meaning - Eyrie, the nest of the eagle. Wales enjoys a Temperate Climate and due to exposure to the prevailing west wind over the North Atlantic Drift, or Gulf Stream, providing the mountains with high rainfall levels. There is a joke about the Welsh weather - "You don't like this? Wait and hour it will be different." - North Wales and its mountains seem to be the only location in the British Isle's where the rain drives across open areas, falling horizontally. However, it is the Temperate Climate which gives it the unique weather. Usually characterised by having roughly equally long winters as summers. Temperature extremes are uncommon but may still occur in regions of the UK were there is the effect of the European continental climate. The hallmark of temperate zones is a relatively small fluctuation in temperature between seasons, with rain that generally falls all year round. Temperate areas of the world other than Britain include much of rest of Europe, parts of the north-west and north-east of the United States, New Zealand, eastern Asia and southern Chile. However, some of these areas experience quite different types of weather depending on their position relative to the sea and winds. For example, although the Northeast of North America is at the same latitude as western and northern Europe it lacks the warming influence of the North Atlantic Drift. As a consequence, much of the north-eastern seaboard of the United States is ice-bound during winter months, displaying a Continental Climate. Vegetation in Wales is varied, as some species adapted to colder, subarctic climates as well as those adapted to hotter countries survive on outer limit of their temperature tolerances. Leaf bearing trees dominate the natural forest's, while close to the coastal regions many types of ferns dominate the northern region, as well as some inland parts away from the coastline. In a temperate climate, to be comfortable we need to have most glazed windows south-facing, with shading designed to admit the sun's heat in winter, but not in summer. We need in the mountains and inland away from the coast internal heat storage capacity to soak up the heat during the day and re-radiate it at night . Because of high winds in the autumn, winter and spring storms. Because of the winds we need air-tight construction (weather-stripping on external doors, a need to plug gaps which allow heat loss were there are drafts. We also need to give thought to a pale-coloured roof which will reflect much of the sun's radiation in summer. Because the winter sun is lower in the sky, it shines more on the walls and windows than on the roof, solar heating via the roof is therefor not great. We need a house plan which allows cross-ventilation. This is so you can cool your house by opening windows on hot days or during high humidity at night. Summer shade on east and west walls can be an added comfortable shade in hot weather. Also deciduous trees or vines can be grown on frames for shade. While it is also sensible to grow evergreens to act as wind breaks if cold winter winds are a problem. This picture below displays clearly how the territorial behaviour of the 'Welsh Mountain Sheep' can be an advantage. The farmer who grazes the south side, will very seldom have sheep from the north face of the valley crossing over to graze, and visa versa. Territorial behaviour is valuable, time saving and predictable when a sudden deep snow storm strikes. The location of his sheep, at any time of the day or night, is more or less known to the Welsh Sheep farmer. 'Welsh Mountain Sheep' are most predictable animals.
Toriad dydd dros y Glydeiriau.
No130 Daybreak over the Glyders.
Llanbedr:- Local O1341 - 241538.
International:- UK 0441341241538.
|[Identifier Section 11]|
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE.
The past four, nearly five years, have been a mixture of emotions and effects. First, apprehension as we never knew what the next week or month was to bring. Secondly, the doubts about had we got it right. That was very real when we started and wondered if the web-site would even make a small scratch on the surface of the policed surface of the web. Better way of putting it, would we have enough to interest people, enough to make our site the sort of location that people would want to visit and spend time, eventually spend money. Selling our ''Organic Aran-Lamb'' is what the web-site was about. Now years later we know. We had it right. Now we can make it better. Now we can add to the content and polish what we have already achieved.
We have, in the last couple of years, put a lot of effort into the 'Organic Food Fairs' and 'Organic Sale Days' from as far south as mid-Wales to the North Wales Coast. We have made many new customers and lots of compliments. It has all been worthwhile. Here, on this page, is a photo of myself and Mag's at the 'Portmerion Organic Food Fair' - We shall be there again next year. Finally, just a message to all our school visitors, the 'virtual filed trips' from Canade, America and Austrilasia. We hope that the content of this new page proves to be worthwhile and interesting. To our visitors, who come to 'Organic Aran-Lamb seeking knowledge about Wales - You are extremely welcome. If there is any information of any questions you want answers to, contact us and we try and answer you by return. Finally, to all our existing customers, thank you for your custom in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004. We really hope you will call us again in 2005. And last bet not least, if you are not a customer, and you are thinking of buying from us, be sure you will have your meat in prime condition when it arrives. Be sure that you will have the very finest quality we can provide. As a final comment - "Organic Aran-Lamb is so good………You can taste the difference." We know that - We were the winners of the National Farmers Union National Award 2004 for the finest, good British food.
OUR 2004/5 TESTIMONIALS & Link's.|
No  An e.mail which will lead you to a Sales Venue for Hardware and such like. The only problem for 'us' would be, they are in America. However, it makes a nice 'browse' and a good reference point on product and prices. We also were asked, as you will see, to give them a 'link' - Now we dont have a links page as such - This is the next best thing. The whole e.mail is a direct link! ......... As we say -
GO THERE NOW - and EnJoY!
No  Our most recent 'Thank-You' letter after the delivery was completed. If you have bought meat direct from a farmers, you can be sure, from us you will get an excellent product with lots of additional information and background knowledge. We want you to really enjoy your 'shopping experience' with 'Organic Aran-Lamb' - Like all our customers say..........
No  From Mrs.Val.C - Macclesfield. Nr Stockport. ~ 14th October 2002.
.........Just a brief letter to thank you for the tasty lamb. Also, I must thank you for the swift delivery. The lamb arrived within the week after my Tuesday Order. It was beautifully packed and really quite cold when I opened the box. Oh yes, the Birthday Dinner Party was a real success, in no doubt due to the superb 'main course'. I roasted the two legs of lamb, thinking we would have half a leg left over for the Sunday cold salad. I will know better next time, they ate all of the lamb in the one sitting. The 'Birthday Boy' was really satisfied, as were our guest's. Wonderful tasty and 'more-ish' - We want more and soon. Please find enclosed my personal cheque for £150:00. Payment for two 'tasty' Aran-lamb's in good time for Christmas. We have promised our dinner party friends to let them have joints from our next delivery.........
No  From Mr and Mrs Davis - ……… 12th January 2003.
We found the Aran Lamb rich and delicious, and all the cuts were clearly described, the service was quick, and my wife also found the recipes enclosed with the delivery very helpful. We will be ordering on a regular basis, I want to congratulate the Aran Lamb Company for a professional service……
Mr & Mrs Davis.