The story of the Welsh Black bull is one steeped in history. For centuries farmers have regarded this breed of cattle as prized possessions, providing high quality meat and milk while being equally at home in craggy uplands or lush lowland pastures.

Now the tale of the Welsh Black is about to open a new chapter with the setting up of the first ever Welsh Black bull testing station at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Science (IBERS) near Aberystwyth.

Over the next three years 10 Welsh Blacks per annum will have their performances monitored at IBERS with data (such as linear measurements, feed intake and muscle depth) being recorded and assessed, producing what is known as the BodySUM index of an individual animal.

Those overseeing the trial hope the results will help breeders – who have been advocating a programme such as this to enhance the breed’s market position – make educated decisions about evaluating Welsh Blacks rather than relying solely on visual characteristics of potential sires.

Once the trial is completed semen from the best bulls will be made available to participating breeders which should in turn lead to genetic improvements among the Welsh Blacks breed.

The whole initiative was conceived by Cyswllt Amaeth, an Axis 4 LEADER project which explores new business opportunities for farmers in Ceredigion, with financial assistance provided in part by the RDP.

“This is an exciting initiative that will directly benefit Welsh farmers while also helping to promote and develop our native breed of bull,” says Anwen Williams, Rural Project Officer at Cyswllt Amaeth.

“Using a bull with superior performance figures can result in the value of any subsequent calves increasing by up to £47, so it makes sense for farmers to improve their herds in this way.”

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