Charollais Breeding for Hardiness
13th September 2018
Charollais Breed Society Chairman, Arwyn Thomas of the Arbryn flock, is the first Welshman to hold the position and is also sits on the NSA Wales & Border Ram Sales committee. Having run a commercial flock, he bought his first pedigree breeding ewes at the sale on the Royal Welsh Showground
He chose Charollais 28 years ago on the advice of a friend who was buying for a slaughterhouse. The friend was a great admirer of their length and ability to weigh, combined with their strong conformation.
Arwyn and his wife, Jane, run the Arbryn flock of 100 pedigree Charollais females and are regular vendors at the NSA Wales & Border sale. As breeders, Arwyn and Jane are recognised well beyond Wales having regularly sold tups to Holland as well as over to Ireland from the Builth sale.
Arwyn said: “I liked the look of the Charollais females I saw in Builth and bought a few in my first year. My first ewe was a DQ ewe purchased from the late Llandeilo vet, Emrys Bowen. She was a six year old that went on to breed ten lambs over the next four years. Tim Prichard tupped them for me in my first year and I have gone on to share many stock rams with Castellau since then.
“Breeders have always been supportive and no more so than when, in 1994, Dr Dai Morris and Dilwyn Davies lent me the use of their tup, Finstall Edmund. It went on to breed for me the winning ram lamb at the Royal Show.
“This was a one of the earliest pinnacles and he went on to win at the 2011 NSA Wales & Border Ram Sale. Jane and I have now won the breed championship at the sale on six occasions and over the years have achieved prize winners and championships at both the Royal and Royal Welsh Shows and at the Society’s Premier sale at Worcester, with Arjane Klansmann selling for 7,200 guineas in 2010 .”
Arwyn is enjoying his term as Chairman of the Charollais Breed Society. He is enthusiastic about his role in steering the society in the right direction and says they are making progress in providing stock that are fit for purpose for the commercial buyer.
He says: “Initially I liked them because they are very fast growing, with tremendous weight gain.Our better lambs can hit 40 kgs at 8 weeks and the target has to be to sell lambs at the earliest opportunity by hitting the target weight at fewer weeks with good back cover.
“The ease of lambing is fantastic, with lambs having great virility looking to suckle before they can stand. These days we have managed to get a lot more hardiness into them compared with ten years ago with breeders responding to the market and intentionally breeding thicker skins and head cover to provide what the commercial producer desires .
“People are now using Charollais tups in Snowdonia and we’re running a scheme this year looking at the performance of Charollais on Welsh Mountain ewes as this seems to be a cross that has clicked superbly and with the challenges ahead could be a great asset to the hill farmers.”