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No magic bullet for improving lamb production, FUW farm visit told

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no magicIMPROVING the efficiency of lamb production was the main topic of discussion during a Farmers’ Union of Wales-organised visit to independent sheep consultant Catherine Nakielny’s Carmarthenshire family farm.

Dr Nakielny, of KN Consulting, farms 800 ewes at her home at Talley, near Llandeilo. She previously worked for a commercial sheep breeding company and various industry consultants following her studies at Aberystwyth University where she completed an Animal Science BSc and PhD on Breeding Sheep for Resistance to Roundworms.

A Nuffield Scholar, she is chairman of the FUW’s animal health and welfare committee, the union’s Carmarthenshire county chairman, sits on the NSA Welsh committee and represents Wales on the NSA UK policy and technical committee.

She is also a Wales representative for the Moredun Research Institute, was a member of Farming Connect’s Agri Academy 2012 Rural Leadership Programme and received the National Sheep Association Cymru/Wales Award 2012.

She is a technical sheep specialist covering a variety of sheep production issues, has been involved in the sheep industry for over 15 years and has been working as an independent sheep consultant for the last five years.

Over this period she has been involved in a number of research and demonstration projects ranging from sheep breeding and genetic improvement to parasite control and winter forage costs.

In 2011 she was awarded a Nuffield scholarship and has since visited a number of countries including Ireland, New Zealand and Australia studying lamb production systems and new opportunities for improving flock profitability.

She studied the role of efficiency in reducing methane emissions from lamb production due to concerns that the climate change debate would lead to calls for a reduction in livestock numbers.

However, following a meeting with leading scientists and policy makers, it is clear that the need to produce more food to feed a growing population means that the focus will in the future lie with increasing efficiency of production and “sustainable intensification”.

Dr Nakielny has a particular interest in improving the efficiency of lamb production. She said:

“Whilst there is need to improve efficiency of production and much talk about sustainability, the future of lamb production lies in the ability of individual producers to create profitable businesses. Without this there is no sustainability.

“Policy makers and scientists have a role to play in supporting research and creating a framework in which producers can operate effectively but ultimately profitability results from taking control of an individual business and making the most of market opportunities and meeting the needs of consumers.

“Lamb is already a high value product on the shelves so we can’t expect to see rapid increases in what we receive for lamb so we need to think about the things we can control. There is no magic bullet and I believe that profitability will come from tackling a range of issues which currently reduce profitability.

“Risk management will also become increasingly important as well as being able to react to changing conditions based on a clear understanding of what drives the business.”

Dr Nakielny is therefore working with a number of producers to develop monitoring and benchmarking systems as well as working with Farming Connect to develop the Know Your Flock+ benchmarking groups.

Looking to promote innovation in the sector, Dr Nakielny has also developed The Ram Shop, a unique marketing tool for ram breeders as well as working on a number of tools to help with the monitoring and benchmarking of sheep flocks.

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Man accused of sexually assaulting six-year-old girls

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A FORMER Penparcau man is to stand trial accused of sexually assaulting two six year old girls.

Raymond Albert Wardall, 55, now of Blaenllynant Lodge, Queens Road, Aberystwyth, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.

Wardall denied a total of eight charges of sexual assault and sexual touching.

He will stand trial on November 27 and was granted bail until then.

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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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