Pastoral System

Pastoralism is the type of agriculture which results from people using pasture to feed their animals. In some countries it is characterized by transhumance, where pastoralists move their animals from winter to summer grazing. Sometimes it is embodied in the essence of nomadism where people live with and follow their flocks and herds to wherever the grass is. Here in Wales it was most commonly practised by the Hafod a Hendre system of moving animals to common grazing in the summer and returning to the holding for the winter.
We have, at present, three main parts to our holding. Our animals are grouped into those who require close supervision and regular work, for example milking, which have to be with us here on the main part of the holding where the farmhouse and buildings are, as well as some 78 acres of permanent pasture. In the village, less than a mile away we have some pieces of land known as slangs or Llain in Welsh. These are unique strips of land which only occur in Llantsantffraed and in a place in Lincolnshire. They date back to the middle ages and are probably long and thin because of the need to turn oxen and plough a minimum amount of times when preparing to sow the winter wheat. On these we keep sheep and grow part of our crop of hay which we use for winter feeding.

We can check on these animals more readily but they require less attention than those at home. Some 9 miles distant we have a parcel of 30 acres of grazing, which can sometimes be used to take a crop of hay but at present is used to graze our Lleyn sheep.

In the grazing season (April to October/November) our animals feed exclusively from the forage that grows on the pastures. The milking animals can be fed a handful of GM free sugar beet while they are being milked but that is all. The result of producing milk and meat from forage is that the produce is up to 5 times higher in natural antioxidants than intensively reared meat and milk.
In winter the animals are fed supplementary rations of hay which we have taken from some of the fields in the summer. None of our pasture is treated with anything artificial. No fertilizers, no pesticides, no herbicides, no fungicides - nothing. We use no routine antibiotics. Antibiotics can only be used if an animal will die if not treated. The buffalo are not treated with wormers unless absolutely necessary. The sheep are treated with a flukicide (a wormer which kills liver fluke) occasionally as we do have an area on the holding which is susceptible to liver fluke. Our aim in our pastoral system is to have an ecosystem of flora and fauna in balance.