Mixed sheep and cattle grazed farms
Wales is located on the west of mainland UK. Altitude ranges from 0 - 1085 m, with the highest mountains found within the Snowdonia range in the north. Further south the topography becomes less rugged, although hills remain a key landscape feature, with the Cambrian Mountains dominating much of mid Wales, and the Brecon Beacons further south. Lowland areas are confined mainly to the relatively narrow coastal belts and the valley floors. Wales has an essentially maritime climate, characterised by weather that is often cloudy, wet and windy but mild. Altitude, steep slopes, high rainfall and poor soils have led to just below 80 % of the agricultural land being classified as Less Favoured Area. As a result much of the land is devoted to grassland farming systems.
Number of farms surveyed
A total of 19 farms have been surveyed (9 organic farms and 10 conventional farms).
Specialist grazing livestock
Most of the farms combine the production of sheep (breed Welsh Mountain, Beulah speckle-face, Llyn, Welsh mule and Texel or Suffolk crosses) and cattle (breed Welsh Black, Highland, Hereford and Charolais or Limousin crosses). One farm raises pigs and some also have marginally some horses and poultry (one farm 1.4 millions of eggs).
The average size of these grazed sheep and cattle farms is 154 ha for OF versus 131 ha for CF. The stocking density is lower in OF : 0.85 in OF versus 1.22 in CF. The farms have only grasslands which can be divide in 3 different types : - Temporary grasslands fertilized with organic matter and mineral fertilizers in CF: 34% of the UAA in OF versus 35% in CF with an average yield of 6.7TDM in OF versus 7.1 in CF. The production of silage is realized on these parcels - Productive permanent grasslands mainly grazed: 39% of the UAA in OF versus 32% in CF with an average yield of 4.8TDM in OF versus 5.8 in CF - Semi-natural habitats composed of dry heath, bracken, open woodland and rough grassland only grazed with a low productivity : 2.2 TDM in OF versus 1.6 in CF.