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What Katie did next – became ambassador

THE Welsh Black Cattle Society’s young member ambassador for 2010-11 is Katie Pugh, a 21-year-old farmer’s daughter from Ty-Talgarth, Nantymoel, near Bridgend, in Glamorgan.

Currently she is studying agriculture part-time at Carmarthenshire’s Coleg Sir Gar Gelli Aur campus while also working on an organic dairy farm in Pembrokeshire.

Studies have already seen her gain a National Diploma in Agriculture and a Higher National Certificate. On completion of her HND she hopes to go on to take a degree in agriculture at Aberystwyth University.

“The variety of work experience and knowledge I have gained to date has been beneficial to me,” says Katie, who was a finalist in the 2009 Lantra Learner of the Year Awards.

As a member of Neath YFC, she represented her county at the Dairy Event at Stoneleigh in 2004, taking fourth place overall for dairy stockjudging.

In 2008, she won the YFC Welsh Stockman of the Year competition, judging and giving reasons on a pen of four dairy cows, beef, sheep and pigs.

Agricultural work

Ever since leaving school at 16, Katie has always wanted to work in agriculture.

Her farming roots run deep and her family has farmed at Nantymoel since 1939.

During the early days, the land covered roughly 100ha (250 acres) and in order to make a sustainable living, the family took on two additional farms, renting 360ha (889 acres) in 1966 and purchasing Maindy Farm at Ton Pentre in 1989 – taking today’s total acreage to 750ha (1,853 acres).

Ty-Talgarth is situated at the head of the Ogmore Valley, nine miles north of Bridgend.

The lower lying fields are around 900ft above sea level, rising to 1,750ft – making the farm one of the highest in Glamorganshire.

Mainly due to the topography and nature of the land, the farm is committed to breeding traditional breeds of livestock, both beef cattle and sheep.

The herd of 40 pedigree breeding Welsh Black cows and the 1,000 Nelson-type Welsh Mountain ewes with followers, adapt well to the restrictions of the environment and climate.

The farm is managed on an organic system and both cattle and sheep are predominantly grass fed, receiving only a small amount of organic concentrate at the finishing stage.

Distinctive areas

The grassland is divided into two distinctive areas, the ‘in-bye’, where organic forage crops such as triticale and oats are grown under-sown with grass leys mixed with red and white clover, and the upland grazings.

The clover fixes atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, enabling the farm to grow crops without the use of chemical fertilisers.

Phosphate and potash come from the manure produced on the farm, making the holding self-sufficient in home-grown feed and soil fertility.

The farm is unique in that it is located on the edge of a large urban populated area yet adjoining the high altitude mountains of Blaen Ogwr and Gelli.

As on most family farms, the need to expand has resulted in diversification and the Ty-Talgarth organic butchery and farm shop on the main holding means the family has secured the business for the children – Katie is one of three – living and contributing to farm life.

One of Katie’s first major appointments will be to represent the society at this year’s Royal Welsh Show.

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