Gareth Davies  -  The role of quality grazed grass in lowering the cost of production on UK farms

Royal Welsh Agricultural Society

My family have been involved in farming since the late 1800's in the west Glamorgan area of South Wales, my grand father bought Cwmnantllwyd the current family farm in 1956, the farm was then bought by my father in the 1960's. The farm was always a typical mixed Welsh hill farm with a small herd of milking cows, a few suckler cows, numerous sheep and a few sows living in the woods. In the mid 1970's during a very hard winter we started selling our milk directly to the local residents as a result of our collections, and their deliveries being cancelled due to the snow, once the snow had thawed and normal service had resumed we decided to become official producer retailers, bottling our own un-pasturised green top milk. In a very short space of time we had built up a fairly large milk round which we kept going for twenty years. During the late eighties my brother and I both returned to the farm forming a family partnership, this partnership split up when we bought another farm and my brother set up on his own. I remained a partner until a freak accident in 1996 meant that I was unable to carry on farming at that time. My brother and father are both still actively farming.

After the farming had ended I did various jobs including long distance lorry driving, selling, hardwood floor fitting and printing. However it soon became obvious that I needed to be involved with agriculture again, this firstly came about as a result of the foot and mouth crisis and subsequently with a waste recycling company, and then on to dairy genetics and grassland management. I will say that the time I spent outside the industry has given me different perspective of the industry which I feel has been a big benefit to me since my return.

Just before my farming accident I met Alison who was soon to be my wife, Alison is a nurse who also has her own small Holistic Therapy business.  I owe a great deal to Alison for her strong support over the years, without which I would never have achieved what I have thus far.  We have two children Hannah and Dewi who are both in full time education and we live about half a mile from the family farm.

I can't write an introduction without mentioning rugby!! Rugby has played a significant part in my life, I started playing for the local under 11's team when I was eight and played my first game of rugby on a field I can see from my back garden. I went on and played for my local school and county before playing senior rugby for a number of years. When my playing days finished I spent five years coaching senior rugby. I have learnt a lot about leadership and teamwork through my involvement in rugby. I also played rugby for my YFC - Neath where I was a member for 14 years.