One of the Cwlwm Seiriol project aims is to manage and improve areas of land for wildlife, recreation and access around Llanddona, Llangoed and Llaingoch where there may not have been grazing for many years.
There will soon be some new residents in the Cwlwm Seiriol project area: a small herd of Carneddau semi-feral ponies.
Grazing is a good way of managing land for wildlife benefit, the browsing and nibbling of trees and plants opens up gaps in which new plants can grow, stops a thick, plant suppressing surface mat from developing and provides dung which can support up to 250 different types of insect.
I am Hilary Kehoe, I work one day a week with the Cwlwm Seiriol project on managing this land, so I am in charge of the Cwlwm ponies. These five young lads have grown up on the mountains above Rachub and needed to be taken off the mountain as we have to keep the number of stallions at the right level so that they don’t fight each other or upset the mares.
There are only 350 Carneddau ponies on the mountains; although they are not designated as a rare breed, they are genetically distinct from the Welsh Mountain pony and carry genes specifically related to hardiness and waterproofing, so they don’t need to be housed in the winter, as long as there is shelter from trees, walls or hillocks. These ponies were owned by graziers on Llanllechid common and were not handled before they were gathered. They came off the mountain in August and have been kept on my farm to be gelded and lightly handled. I have been “pony whispering” using a small, round pen to get them used to me and to wearing a headcollar. They are getting easier to handle now so that they can be caught and loaded into a trailer and have their feet trimmed if required.
The first place they will graze is Lleiniog meadow, near Llangoed, this needs some fence repairs then will be ready for the ponies to start work- making gaps in the vegetation to allow more species to grow. Later, there is a possibility that we can fence Llaniestyn common with “invisible fencing” which will allow the ponies, wearing collars, to graze without going onto the road – kept in check by a buried electric fence. Private landowners with land they would like to manage by grazing will be able to meet up with me to decide on a grazing plan and then borrow electric fencing and use the ponies to achieve improvements in the nature on their land.
I will be training volunteer stock checkers in how to check the ponies to make sure that they are safe, well and happy. The free LANTRA training course will be run over the winter and I will organise a rota of checkers to ensure regular checks are made. I will be visiting them every week too. Anyone who is interested in coming on this course can register via the Cwlwm Seiriol FaceBook page by sending a message or calling us.
The ponies don’t have names yet, so it would be great to have some suggestions. As you can see, they are very handsome boys.
I will be posting updates about them on the Cwlwm Seiriol Facebook page (@Cwlwm Seiriol), or call Delyth Phillipps (07815 709240).
The project will manage and improve areas of land for recreation and access for local communities.
- These ponies carry genes related to hardiness and waterproofing and require little housing if there are natural shelters.
- Private landowners can apply for these ponies to help graze their own lands.
Natural Resource Benefits
Grazing animals help to open up undergrowth and fertilise the soils with their dung.