Student farmers take on challenge to build pigsty fit for a princess porker


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Two teams of Welsh young farmers have taken on the challenge of building a pigsty fit for a princess porker – helped by Europe’s leading trailer manufacturer.

S4C’s Fferm Ffactor:Brwydr y Ffermwyr programme saw the three-strong teams battling to create perfect free-range homes for the pedigree Welsh weaners, using old pallets, scrap wood, corrugated iron and other items found on most farms.

The final part of their 90-minute task was to herd the young gilts 30 metres across a field at Coleg Cambria’s Llysfasi site near Ruthin, and into the new sties.

During the sty-building contest the three-month-old pigs relaxed in style in their Q range trailer, supplied by Ifor Williams Trailers for the show.

The pigs were bred by Dafydd Davies, from Prion, near Denbigh, and after the show were destined to be turned into pork, sausages and bacon for sale at the family’s butcher’s shop on Denbigh’s Vale Street.

The students from Harper Adams University in Shropshire and Gelli Aur, part of Coleg Sir Gar in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, were among six teams all bidding for the knock-out show’s top prize.

The winning team will enjoy a 15-day holiday of a lifetime, exploring farming life in South America, courtesy of travel company Teithiau Tango.

Every step of the DIY sty challenge was captured on camera for the show, and carried out under the close scrutiny of judges Caryl Gruffydd Roberts from Llanwrst, Aberystwyth farmer Richard Tudor, and show presenter Ifan Evans.

The Gelli Aur team, sporting orange shirts, is well used to working together – 18-year-old contestants Jack Davies and Aled Davies are cousins, and grew up near each other in Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.

The third team member, Carys Jones, also 18, has known Aled and Jack for many years through Llangadog Young Farmers, as well as at school and college.

Unbeknown to the three, they were nominated by their college tutors – and so were surprised to get a call from the show’s production company, Cwmni Da, inviting them to take part in tests to prove their agricultural and countryside skills.

Aled, whose parents Chris and Sian breed sheep and cattle on their 360-acre farm, said: “We are some of the youngest contestants taking part, but we are giving it a good go.

“I am really enjoying the tasks so far, as they are a real challenge. We’ve also tried sheep shearing, though we were all novices, however I think we did very well. Jack has done a tractor driving and reversing skills test just now, and coped OK.”

All three, who are now starting their degree studies after completing foundation courses, come from farming backgrounds and so have firsthand experience of Ifor Williams Trailers on their family farms.

Jack, whose dad Ceidrych works for cattle genetics and reproduction services company Genus ABS, said: “They are very easy trailers to use, and I know they are seen as the best.”

Carys, who lives with mum Nerys and dad Meirion on their 400-acre sheep and beef farm, admitted that none of the team had much experience with pigs. But she was pleased with their sty, which came with a cut-out entrance and a roof.

“It’s not been easy, but we worked together well as a team. The challenge now is making sure the pig goes straight into it from the trailer,” added Carys.

It’s the first time a team from Harper Adams University, at Edgmond near Newport, Shropshire, has taken part in S4C’s Fferm Ffactor contest.

Representing the renowned agricultural establishment are Lowri Jones from Felinheli, Gwynfor Evans from Trawsgoed near Aberystwyth, and Aled Thomas from Portfield Gate, Haverfordwest,

Their appearance is thanks to the chairman of the university’s Harper Cymru Society, Stuart Jefferies, who nominated them for the knockout competition.

The club offers students the chance to speak in their first language and get to know fellow students from Wales, said Lowri, a former pupil at Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor Glynllifon, Gwynedd. The 19-year-old is studying for a BSC in animal production, which she hopes will lead to a career in genetics.

“It’s great to be taking part in the Fferm Ffactor, as it’s a show that I grew up watching,” said Lowri.

“We use Ifor Williams Trailers at college and so I was used to them for this challenge. I don’t have much experience of pigs, as I don’t have a family background in agriculture. So creating a sty for one isn’t something that I know much about, but it’s a good test of our farming, team and general skills.”

Gwynfor, who attended Ysgol Tregaron, Ceredigion, is planning a career in farming, like dad Wyn and mum Nicole, chair of NFU Cymru’s livestock committee, following his BSC in agri-business.

The 19-year-old said: “I am very happy that Lowri, Aled and I were selected to take part in Fferm Ffactor on behalf of Harper Adams.

“The show is a real challenge of our skills as young farmers and I hope that we will win this contest, as it’s such a great prize.”

Also proud to be wearing the burgundy Harper Cymru shirt was 20-year-old Aled, a former pupil of Ysgol Y Preseli, Crymych, Pembrokeshire who lives with his parents Ken and Carole, both former detectives, on their 300 acre farm, rearing suckler beef.

Aled, who is also studying for a BSC degree in agriculture, said: “It was great when we were asked to take part on behalf of the university, as there are very strong links, such as through our vice-chancellor Dr David Llewellyn. I get very little chance now to speak in Welsh, so being able to talk to others in the Harper Cymru Society, and on this show, is a real treat.

“And I understand the university’s former principal, Professor Wynne Jones, was also a judge in previous Fferm Ffactor shows.

“I know absolutely nothing about pigs, so this challenge will be interesting – especially herding one of them across the field. But I am good at making stuff, so I am looking forward to building a pig sty out of nothing.

“I am used to taking our cattle to market in our Ifor Williams Trailer, so it is great to see them being used on the show, here in North Wales where they are made.

“They are a real farmer’s trailer – when it comes to the point when I can buy a trailer of my own, it will be an Ifor Williams Trailer one, most definitely.”

Caryl Gruffydd Roberts, marketing manager for the Farming Union of Wales, said the panel of judges were grateful to  Ifor Williams Trailers for offering to help out with the challenge.

“Every year the company supports the show, and it is great to see that level of support from an international company based in North Wales.

“The challenge is a tricky one for the teams, as it’s not easy to make a sty – pigs are strong and can get their snouts under to lift the sides.

“They are also very unpredictable, so it will be interesting to see how the teams cope with moving them from the trailer into the sty.

“The teams are all much younger this year, and that’s great to see. It’s brought a lot more banter to the show, plus loads of energy and fun. I think our older viewers will appreciate that – I know they like to see young farmers having a good time – and helps to bring in a younger audience as well.”

Daniel Joyce, Corwen Sales Manager for Ifor Williams Trailers, said the company was delighted to once again help the Fferm Ffactor production team.

“These trailers, which are part of our Q Range, are a firm favourite with those working in agriculture, for moving animals such as pigs and sheep, with a 4×4 or a quad.

“So it made perfect sense to have the pigs relaxing in the trailers while the teams built the sties. The real challenge was getting them to move out and across the field to their new homes.”

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