World travel comes with the job for sire analyst
A GWENDRAETH Valley farmer is travelling the globe to help strengthen UK herds by encouraging genetic diversity.
Owain Harries is a sire analyst, one of the rarest roles in agriculture.
The 25-year-old studied at Coleg Sir Gâr's Gelli Aur campus before attending Harper Adams University in Shropshire.
His family run a dairy farm at Cwmgwili, near Cross Hands.
Want a summer bargain? Save 20% on your GRP Flat Roof throughout summer with this voucher.
We apply a twenty five year guarantee to ensure nothing but the best quality roofing.
Tel: 0800 644 6323
Terms: Terms & Conditions Apply.
Contact: 0800 6446323
Valid until: Thursday, June 27 2013
"I've been involved in dairy farming all my life," he said.
"I think farming has always been in the family — I'm a farmer, my father is a farmer and my grandfather too.
"I enjoy working with the animals. We do work hard but there are rewards. Sometimes you see the rewards the following day, some rewards you might not see for ten years. "But every time a little calf is born, it is a reward. It means something to us."
Owain's family have run a farm at Cwmgwili for the past 13 years.
Prior to that the family farmed at Felinfoel, Llanelli.
"We became involved in the pedigree side of the business in the year 2000," he said.
"We now have two breeds on the farm — Holstein and dairy shorthorn."
Owain began working as a sire analyst with Chester-based company Cogent 19 months ago.
"There are only two of us working in that role for companies in the UK," he said.
"I look at the bulls that are available all over the world and select bulls to use on the best cows in the world to make the next generation of top-quality bulls.
"We can test the calves, look at their DNA and see which strengths and weakness they have.
"At a month old we can see if they will be good bulls."
Owain says analysis of this type helps to encourage the health of herds.
"One of the biggest problems you see is inbreeding," he said. "Every couple of years two or three bulls rise to the top as the best bulls available.
"One of the main aims of a farm is to be profitable.
"It would be easy for people to use the same bulls to breed the best sons.
"We travel to the other side of the world looking for genetic diversity to bring different blood lines and bring in different health traits.
"If we breed specific health traits into bulls, it can make them healthier. Their farms are then more profitable."
Owain's work has already taken him to Canada, America, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, France and Ireland.
But he stills enjoys working on the farm at Cwmgwili.
"My parents run the farm," he said.
"They are the main farmers and I go home on weekends and help where I can."
But Owain has concerns about the future of the industry.
"We are a strong farming country but economics will be the deciding factor in how many will stay," he said.
"I think the next year could be tough.
"Certainly, as far as breeding is concerned, we can make informed choices."
Five Star Breeders, part of the Cogent Group, is expanding its trading area into Carmarthenshire and parts of Pembrokeshire, where it will offer a comprehensive cattle insemination technician service to the region's dairy and beef farmers.