Morgan Owen’s grandfather Iolo Owen, in the mid ’60s looked into an alternative breed of ewe to the Welsh Mountain he brought in from various sources, thus crossing the Wiltshire Horn with Nelson Welsh creating the Easy Care ewe. Having been successful, they have built up the flock to 2700 ewes- all of which are sold off as proven three-year-olds. These ewes may well go on to breed for another three years, mostly mated with an Easy Care ram however some selecting the heavier commercial types and using the ewe’s mothering ability to their advantage. The breeding ewe and ram sales are held during the September and October months at Skipton, Gaerwen, Exeter, Worcester and Carlisle.
The Easy Care breed of ewe is recognised as being medium-sized and hardy which are more prolific than the Welsh Mountain on its own. At tupping time, the ewe lambs along with the ewes are turned to the rams and are expected to lamb outdoors mostly unassisted. The sheep do well on pasture alone eliminating the need to feed concentrate, thus being advantageous to the farm’s organic status. Most of the lambs are sold as stores, however, any finished lambs are expected to achieve an R3L grading.
Easy Care are probably better known for the fact that they do not need shearing! The ewe’s coat could be described as ‘hair’ rather than wool, which gradually thins its self out during the warmer months. Other than not needing to shear them, they also need little or no fly control, due to not having excess wool around the rear end to harbour any faeces which may lead to fly strike. Again, keeping the costs minimal.
Using the TagFaster automatic system has contributed significantly to the low input labour costs on the farm.
Morgan can do all the tagging on his own, due to the effectiveness of the applicator feeding ten pairs through at a time. Even though the breed society doesn’t specify on visual tag colour, having seven colours to choose from fits in with the farm’s system of changing colour each year distinguishing the ewe’s ages, without having to go through all the mouths. Having the double tags printed with ‘Easy Care’ at no extra cost on the TagFaster range, clearly aids in the recognition of the breed, thus eliminating the need for a third tag, which is used when sellers haven’t got the information on their current tag.
Morgan has found the retention to be very good, only having to replace as little as 2% on three-year-old ewes. Also given the small and narrow pin, damage to the ear is kept to a minimum if they do manage to get caught.
Morgan Owen, Glantraeth