Amidst the challenges facing the Welsh farming industry, a family business on the Gower Peninsula is celebrating months of record growth.
Dan Pritchard co-runs a third-generation sheep farm, together with his brother Will and father Rowland, across holdings at Weobly Castle and Cai Ivor on the Gower Peninsula. The farm produces the award-winning Gower Salt Marsh Lamb. Due to the fact the sheep graze on the salt marshes when the tide is out, the unique environment gives the meat a distinctive and very special flavour that is sought after by connoisseurs of fine meat and applauded by top chefs and restaurateurs alike.
“We’ve been growing our business steadily and consistently for years, but since summer 2020 we have seen a 20% increase in sales,” said Dan. “Things really ramped up and this was largely helped by the fact we already had many of the right things in place to capitalise on the situation.”
The family saw business boom through their direct-to-customer sales during lockdown. The Gower Salt Marsh Lamb website allows customers anywhere in the UK to order lamb with nationwide delivery. They also have a farm shop and butchery on site where they sell their own fresh and frozen lamb and other local produce, and supply to Filco, an independent supermarket serving communities in South Wales.
The digital approach to the business has gone beyond online sales. Before this year, they were keeping all their farm records manually, using pen and paper. Dan is one of the first Welsh farmers to use the new AgriWebb farm management app, which launched last April following an early adopter programme working with 100 British lamb and beef farmers. It digitises farm mapping, herd management, tasks and record keeping, empowering livestock farmers to grow their businesses in increasingly tough conditions.
“I use AgriWebb every day – it’s a very easy app to use in the field and it’s helping boost our productivity and efficiency,” said Dan. “For example, we sold a few ewes the other day, so I quickly entered the sale record using the phone app. I also find it useful for cost reduction reports on our fields. You must have knowledge of what things are costing to run a high-performance farming business. With AgriWebb we’re building a bank of farm data meaning we’ll be able to look back to see changes and trends and improve our approach accordingly.”
All Gower Salt Marsh Lamb is fully traceable, and animals are born where they live and spend most of their lives grazing the salt marsh. Recording data from birth that proves the health and performance of animals underpins the quality of the product. With the increasing appetite for local produce, and the popularity of buying from trusted suppliers online, Gower Salt Marsh Lamb is leading by example. Dan added: “We haven’t had a Farm Assurance inspection since starting to use the app, but I can simply give them all our data reports when that happens. It will be a big help.”