Welsh livestock rising, say officials

Confidence in the Welsh red meat industry is on the rise, leaders claimed, following news that livestock numbers are growing again, following a long period of decline.

Farmers are described as "increasingly optimistic" about the sector's long-term future, after figures from the Welsh Assembly government showed that, in 2010, the number of sheep, cows and pigs had increased compared with the previous 12 months.

The Welsh sheep flock has increased from 8,238,000 to 8,244,000 head, but the most significant statistic was a 3% rise in breeding ewes to 4.1m which should have a positive impact on the size of the lamb crop in 2011.

Beef farmers also increased the number of cattle by 2%, bringing the herd size back to the levels of 2008 at 242,000 head.

There was also a significant rise in the number of breeding pigs being kept in Wales, which rose by 25% to more than 4,000.

John Richards, HCC's industry information officer, said: "These figures are very encouraging and demonstrate that there is growing confidence among those who work on the front line of the Welsh red meat industry. While the Welsh sheep flock has not grown dramatically over the past 12 months, the increase in the number of breeding ewes being retained should bring a significant boost to the industry in 2011."

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