March 2015 Meeting

Are goats for you? This month’s talk is for anyone who keeps goats, has thought about goats, or simply wonders about goats. Debbie Kieboom will be coming along to answer all you questions on Wednesday, 11th March, 2015, 8:00pm at the Gremlin Club Carmarthen. See you there!

DSA AGM 2015

DSA’s Annual General Meeting will be held on the 11th of February 2015, and we’d really like you to be there! Whilst AGMs might not seem to be the most interesting of our meetings, they are perhaps the most important. This is your Association, and this is your chance to have your say. You’ll get to hear how the year has gone, and be a part of electing a new committee, (including you if you like!) The meeting is on the 11th of February at the normal time and place, 8.00 PM, The Gremlin Club, Carmarthen.

New Year Lunch

The DSA New Year Lunch will be on Sunday 25th January at Tafarn Pantydderwen in Llangain, which is about 5 miles out of Carmarthen on the Llanstephan road. One two or three course lunch at £8.95, £12.50, £15.95. Bookings to Liz Phillips, Treasurer by January 20th please. Contact details can be found on our Contact Page

January Meeting

Our monthly meeting will be an auction conducted by professional auctioneer Nigel Hodson. This is your opportunity to sell on all those Christmas presents you don’t want, or any items you no longer need. If small enough then bring them along. For larger items and livestock leave them at home but bring along a good picture and description of the item. You may also bring along a promise to auction. The DSA will charge you 10% commission, minimum £1, of the selling price of the item with the option to give more if you wish. So get into those barns and sheds and start looking for those potential money spinners.

The auction will take place on Wednesday, 14th. January, 2015, 8:00pm at the Gremlin Club Carmarthen. See you there.

Christmas Social

This month there is no formal meeting, instead we are having a social evening. There is no door fee so you will save yourself £1 by coming. Instead of buying a raffle ticket if you bring a present for the “pot” then you will receive a drawer ticket. Please bring something for the communal food table and be prepared to join in with the beetle drive and quiz for which I believe there is an alcoholic prize (that is a bottle, not a person!)

Our social takes place  on Wednesday, 10th December, 8:00pm, at the Gremlin club Carmarthen. See you there.

Report on October meeting

October’s talk came from Judy Lewis and Peat Gleed of the Dexter Cattle Society. Judy spoke first, and described how she and her husband Rhidian bought their first Dexter cow in calf in 1975, and within a few years had increased their herd to 4 cows and a bull. At this point the breed was at serious risk of dying out, as there were only 79 registered cows, and 17 bulls. The good news is that since then numbers have increased markedly; in 2013 there were 2001 registered cows and 111 bulls.
Dexters are a small, hardy breed and seem to be as equally at home on 1300 foot hills as they are on lowland pasture. The price of animals can vary between £300-£1000, and in large part depends on whether or not the animal is registered. This brought Judy on to the point that if you are interested in starting with Dexters, you must think long and hard about what you want/need, and pick the animal that is right for you and your farm. As an example, Dexters come in both short and long-legged varieties. If your land is very wet and boggy, then probably the longer-legged cows will be better. Judy stated that it’s important to avoid breeding a short-legged cow with a short-legged bull as it leads to increased chance of ‘bull dog calves’ – a form of chondrodysplasia which is a fatal genetic mutation. This is thought to have come about due to the breed’s previously very small gene pool in the 1970s, however a blood test for carrier cows is available.
If you decide to take the plunge with Dexters, as with any other animal, take care when choosing. It can often be better to buy straight from a farmer rather than a market. This gives you chance to see them on their home territory, and get an idea of farm standards.
Despite the initial cost for a pedigree animal, Judy said that her cows have always earned their own living. They’ll happily live outside all year round, so long as they have a good hedge or a field shelter, so feed costs are low. Judy & Rhidian’s beef is sold purely through word of mouth and the cows are good milk converters, 4-5 gallons a day is not unknown.
Peat Gleed, then gave us a whistle-stop tour of the use of Dexters for conservation grazing. Due to their hardy nature, they’re ideally suited for poor quality grazing, such as heaths, and moorland. Similarly because of their small size, they work well on ground which needs to be managed sensitively.
All in all, this was a really interesting talk from both Judy and Peat, which raised a great deal of interest and discussion from all of the members present. Many thanks to both of you.


By Liz Phillips

November Meeting

32834This Wednesday, 12th November, there will be a talk by the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service on the topic of fire safety.  As many of us live in fairly remote locations some distance from the nearest fire station, it is a subject that has relevance to many members.  So come along and learn what you can do to protect yourselves! Normal time, normal place, Gremlin Club Carmarthen @ 8:00PM. See you there.

Important! Schmallenberg virus research request

Dear Dyfed Smallholders
My name is Chloe Graham and I am a veterinary student at the Royal Veterinary College, London. As part of my final year research project, I am undertaking a questionnaire based research study about the Schmallenberg virus. Schmallenberg virus had a lot of attention in the media last year, however little has been heard about it since.My family and I own a small flock of sheep (and are members of the Somerset Smallholders Association). Our flock was fortunate enough to escape the virus, but we know several people whose livestock was affected by the disease. Therefore, I have decided to investigate the Schmallenberg virus to see if it still has to be considered a relevant threat to the livestock community, and also the success uptake of available preventative options. My study results will hopefully provide an indication if further research into Schmallenberg is necessary required justified. I would very much appreciate if you could forward the link below out to your members of Dyfed Smallholders.  It is on surveymonkey and should only take 5 minutes to complete.  Any information provided will remain confidential, and only anonymised information will be shared with the Royal Veterinary College in the final report.  There is the option at the end of the for respondents to leave their email address so I can send them the final report. Link to Schmallenberg Virus Livestock Owner Questionnaire you have any questions, please do contact me, either by email or phone, 07964 085344.  I look forward to hearing from you and am grateful for your time. Kind regards, Chloe Graham

October Meeting

index_11_286526301October’s talk comes from Judy Lewis of the Dexter Cattle Society, (  According to their website, “The Dexter breed are the smallest native breed of cattle in the British Isles, they are hardy, dual-purpose cattle, producing excellent beef and milk, an ideal suckler cow for conservation grazing.” Sounds ideal for smallholders! To find out more, come along to our monthly meeting at the Gremlin Club Carmarthen, on the 8th of October, at 8 PM. See you there!

Report on September’s talk by Kate Mayne of Carmarthenshire Vets

Septembers excellent talk was given to us by Kate Mayne from Carmarthenshire Vets. We all know that vets provide a 24/7 emergency service or treatment when something goes wrong. Kate was keen to impress on us that they can also provide telephone advice, do farmyard visits, preventative treatment including vaccinations, treatments and/or surgery (including hospitalising calves!) They can offer animal husbandry advice, helping out with flock planning or teaching skills, such as foot trimming or caring for the neonatal lamb. In Carmarthenshire they are able to do blood analysis, and have a small laboratory within the practise (although specialist blood screen still need to be sent away), they can assist with de-budding, fertility issues, castration/vasectomy, and skin scrapes.

Kate felt that prevention was better than cure, so use your vet as a resource of information. They are keen to be involved in flock/herd planning -a requirement for farm assurance schemes, but helpful to smallholders. She explained they do not need to be complex -even a calender with regular tasks planned in (such as worming/vaccinations) laminated and kept to hand can improve general management.

Parasite control was a much discussed issue on the night. With general agreement that a helpful strategies include;

  • effective quarantine, to prevent importation of parasites to your stock,

  • testing for worm resistance (in sheep & cattle)

  • administering wormer effectively, selecting the correct wormer for the job, getting the dose correct, making sure the animal receives the entire dose (under dosing being the worst thing you can do -as this enables wormer resistance to develop),

  • rotational grazing, to prevent a build up of parasites, and adopting strategies to preserve susceptible worms (to prevent resistance – which you can do by dosing 90% of the flock or turning a completely dosed flock onto dirty pasture for 48 hours following worming)

  • reducing reliance on wormers (through genetics -picking breeds with more natural resistance)

  • field mapping -knowing which fields are prone to parasites

  • symbiotic grazing -grazing geese/ducks on fields affected by fluke to eat up snails who form part of the flukes life cycle

Kate highlighted (to the delight of some listeners) that alpacas and goats have very different needs. Alpacas are very sensitive to worms and wormers -so will need individualised plans to control parasites. Goats should not be treated as sheep; they have a higher metabolic rate which causes them to tolerate vaccinations differently, and may need more frequent or stronger doses of medication. She also informed us that WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) can now insist on TB testing of goats, alpacas and deer.

Her over-riding message to us was -if in doubt call the vet!