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26 March 2024

Farmer Encourages 2024 Agri Academy Applicants to Keep Going for it, Despite Previous Unsuccessful Attempt

A young sheep farmer is reaping the benefits of his determination to get a foothold in farming coupled with a passion for agriculture.

Dafydd Owen secured a share farming agreement after multiple previous attempts and, a year after, a place on the Farming Connect Agri Academy when he applied for the second time.

His message to others who want something badly enough: “Keep at it, ask for feedback and build on it.’’

Dafydd grew up on a sheep farm in Llanddoged and set his sights on a career in farming, establishing his own flock of 100 ewes on 12ha of rented land with his wife, Sioned.

He had applied for joint venture agreements but wasn’t successful – one of these had been offered through Farming Connect’s Start to Farm programme.

“That was bittersweet because my brother got it!’’ he laughs. “It wasn’t meant to be for me and, if it was going to go to someone else, I was pleased that it went to him.’’

Another opportunity presented itself at Coed Coch Farm, Abergele, when landowner Harry Fetherstonhaugh, and Rhys Williams, who Mr Fetherstonhaugh had formed a joint farming arrangement with, were looking for someone to invest a 5% stake of the business and manage the farm on a five-year contract.

Dafydd, who shared their interest in a regenerative approach to farming, applied and, after a series of interviews, was offered that contract.

“It was a bit surreal, the scale of it for one thing because I was going from 12ha and 100 ewes to 310ha and 2,000 ewes,’’ he says.

Dafydd moved to Coed Coch with Sioned and their daughter, Megan, and is about to embark on his second lambing period there. He has a 5% stake in Coed Coch Farm Ltd and is paid a salary by the business for his day-to-day work.

With a new found confidence, Dafydd decided to have a second go at securing a place on the 2023 Farming Connect Agri Academy.

He applied to join the programme two years after his first attempt, which was unsuccessful. Sandwiched between those applications was his participation in a Farming Connect Business Bootcamp.

“I think that helped and it also gave me more confidence in myself,’’ Dafydd recalls.

This time around he was successful and gained enormously from his experiences at the Agri Academy, including the overseas visit to Ontario.

“We visited a lot of forward-thinking farms, farms that applied similar thinking to managing their soils as we do at Coed Coch.

“It was a really well-organised and packed week, I didn’t realise how much I was taking in until I came back and found myself drawing on that knowledge.’’

Farming Connect has also helped him to increase his knowledge of farming in other ways too, through involvement in its discussion groups specialising in spring grazing management and herbal leys and forage crops and in training courses in everything from the safe use of sheep dip and veterinary medicines and an introduction to worm control and faecal egg counting for sheep producers to business planning.

Dafydd has also participated in several Farming Connect masterclasses, around regenerative agriculture and animal health and biodiversity benefits and, through the Farming Connect Advisory Service, he has secured technical advice on grassland and crop management.

While the experience of gaining a share farming agreement has helped to diminish his inclination for self-doubt, participating in the Agri Academy further helped with that change in mindset.

For individuals who are considering applying for the 2024 Agri Academy, Dafydd advises them to “just go for it’’.

“Have confidence in yourself to go for things you might not have considered before. I had a tendency to talk myself out of things, to believe that now is not the right time for pursuing an opportunity, but I have come to realise that there is a benefit to pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

“If it is a good opportunity, like the Agri Academy, then just go for it.’’


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