Lambcam blog: Lambcam

Lambing During Climate Change: What are the Challenges at St Fagans?

Ffion Rhisiart, 20 March 2024

On a wide scale, climate change has made us all aware of just how unpredictable the weather year-to-year can be. But how has it affected lambing at St Fagans and farming in Wales as a whole? Speaking with Emma from the St Fagans farming team, I learnt how climate change has impacted Lambcam 2024. 

In good news, this year has been easier in comparison to 2023! This is down to increased rainfall over the summer in comparison to 2022 which meant that there has been an ample amount of grass to feed the sheep. The year prior had been the opposite, according to Met office data the rainfall in Cardiff in July 2022 had been just 13.0mm, whereas 2023 saw a staggering increase to 185.6mm. A dry summer means that the farm has to rely more on hay and reserve feed over natural grass, leading to the ewes being in poor body condition and subsequently lower birth rates. Ewes require constant monitoring in both the lead up to and during pregnancy. having high mineral and vitamin levels is essential in ensuring they have high fertility and conception rates when being sent to the rams. Meeting their nutritional needs can also ensure that they are not using any of their reserve energy in the peak of their pregnancy. In 2023 we saw 342 lambs born, and this year 444 lambs have been born so far (up to 19 March). This includes a significantly higher number of triplets than average, as well as one set of quadruplets!

So, is more rain always a good thing? Yes and no, both wet and dry scenarios bring their own unique challenges. Too much rain results in the ground becoming waterlogged, making the grass less likely to grow well. The farm at St Fagans in particular is on a lower ground level, so rainfall is slower to dry. Ewes can end up developing footrot in poor underfoot conditions, who then won’t want to eat, ending up weaker on their legs and potentially not able to conceive during mating. 

As you may have noticed, lambing is very high maintenance! Even a slight change can impact how lambing is carried out each year, so farmers are already prepared for the bigger changes. In the words of Emma: “you just have to be”. Farmers have always had to be in touch with how the land is changing, and freak weather years, while becoming more common, have always been an occurrence. In short, being prepared for every eventuality has always been part of the job. While the factors always change, the team at St Fagans have the inherent farmer’s attitude to keep going. 

On the other hand, livestock are temperamental in nature. The dryness of 2022 led to some of the rams going infertile which could be sensed by the ewes, prolonging the lambing season. The lambs of course are vulnerable too, food shortages during drought impacting their growth rates or the mother’s capability of caring for her lambs, in some cases prioritising their milk and leaving out one of her lambs. The general mood of sheep can decline, they get just as fed up with all the rain as we do! Last summer during periods of constant rainfall, they’d refuse to leave the shed even when the doors were open. 

All in all, we know that the world is ever changing, but so is lambing. It’s always been up to farmers to adapt and make the most of what they’ve got. Thank you so much to Emma for taking the time to talk with me, we hope you have enjoyed watching Lambcam 2024!


By Lowri Couzens, Amgueddfa Cymru Producer



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The Sustainability of Wool for Sustainable Sheep Farming

Gareth Beech, 12 March 2024

As we welcome our new lambs at Llwyn yr Eos farm into the world, I’ve been watching the Welsh farmers’ protests and thinking about their future. 

A significant and contentious part of the Welsh Government’s current proposals for the future of agriculture in Wales are measures to promote environmental sustainability and the restoration of biodiversity. This could mean that in the future there might be far fewer sheep kept in Wales. Sustainable sheep farming using environmentally sensitive methods, producing high value products might be the way. How to create added value would be the challenge, though.

One current aspect of sheep farming that has been the cause of frustration for farmers for many years is the low price of wool. The price of a fleece is often not enough to pay the cost of the shearer to shear it. Some farmers have been known to burn or bury their wool rather than pay to have it collected from the wool depot. St Fagans’s wool goes to the British Wool depot in Brecon, whose mission is to drive demand for the product. There is a real need to find additional value from Welsh wool beyond its conventional use for clothing and textiles. This has led to new research into its possible uses in innovative, and sometimes surprising, new products.


Wool as an alternative insulation material in houses is becoming more widely known, but the range of new products and uses being developed include interior fittings for cars, a specialist ingredient for cosmetics, and insulated covers. Other products have been more ‘home-grown’, developed in gardens and on farms, as a means of finding alternative uses for wool and additional income.

Bangor University’s Biocomposite Centre has been working in partnership with Menter Môn’s ‘Gwnaed â Gwlân - Made with Wool’ project to develop new ideas.  They have identified five products with the potential for creating high value. The number one product with the highest potential earnings is Keratin, a fibrous protein which can be used in cosmetics, hair products, medicines. Keratin from wool is a viable alternative to conventional sources such as human hair and feathers, now ethically debateable, or using petroleum-based products.  

Wool’s insulation properties and natural moisture and temperature controls could also be used in covers for trolleys carrying refrigeration products in supermarkets. They could be a sustainable alternative to using foam materials such as polyurethane.

The Product Design course at Bangor University has produced prototypes for gym equipment handles, and mouldings for car interiors, as sustainable alternatives to foams and plastics. Wool is used with bio-resins made from renewable and biodegradable sources such as plants and wood pulp.

The ‘Solid Wool Company’ is already using the method to produce their ‘Hembury’ solidwool chairs using Welsh Mountain wool, described as creating ‘a striking marbled effect, showcasing the unique layering of textures and tones found in this incredible wool’.

At Gwinllan Conwy Vineyard, Conwy County, mats of wool are laid on the ground at the foot of the vines, deterring pests and weeds, reducing the need to spray chemicals. The fleeces also reflect the sunlight on to the grapes.  Significantly, the quality of the wine has also improved.

In a similar way, wool mats are also effective in vegetable gardens. Repairing footpaths using wool as a base is being tried on Anglesey. It’s a way of trying to find a more sustainable method using a locally produced product, instead of a man-made membrane.


With such a range of new and sustainable uses, l hope the lambs we see being born today will have their fleeces put to good use in the future in sustainable sheep farming, in a sustainable environment.

For more information about the story of wool, visit our National Wool Museum in Dre-fach Felindre, Carmarthenshire.  

National Wool Museum 



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Lambing Challenge for Schools: Win free workshops at Amgueddfa Cymru!

Ffion Rhisiart, 4 March 2024

We are delighted to launch an upcoming new Lambing Challenge for Schools hosted by Amgueddfa Cymru. The winning school will be able to book up to 2 workshops either in person at one of our sites or virtually, from the advertised list on our museum website.

We believe Lambcam sessions are fun and insightful for students, but also an opportunity to foster their curiosity about the world around them.

We want to know how you are using Lambcam in your schools - show us your best moments in class using our Lambcam sessions with the students!


Challenge Details

  • Age Group: 5-14 years
  • Date: 4th - 22nd March 2024
  • How to Participate: Share photographs, videos and artworks on X (formerly Twitter) and don’t forget to tag us using @Amgueddfa_Learn and #Lambcam #Sgrinwyna. If submitting multiple entries from the same school, please mention your class details in the post as well.
  • Prize: The winning school will be able to book up to 2 workshops either in person or virtually, from the advertised list on our museum website.  


Terms and Conditions

  • Entry through X (formerly Twitter) only – please share your photos by tagging @Amgueddfa_Learn and using the hashtags #Lambcam #Sgrinwyna
  • No limit on the number of entries. Schools can have as many classes as they like to participate.
  • Winners will be randomly selected and will be notified by Wednesday 10th of April.
  • The prize is valid for any Amgueddfa Cymru site, subject to availability.
  • The number of pupils must not exceed 60 and is the equivalent to 2 workshops either in person or virtual, from the advertised list on our website.
  • The prize is valid until the end of summer term / end of July 2024. 
  • Workshop dates will be based on availability at the time of arranging a trip. 


Should you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to contact us at


We look forward to receiving your creative and insightful submissions!




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Croeso nôl | Welcome back - Lambcam 2024

Ffion Rhisiart, 1 March 2024

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

We are delighted to be launching this year’s #lambcam on St David’s Day. This is a special year as we’re also celebrating the 10th year that we have streamed live from the lambing sheds at St Fagans! Lambcam 2024 is once again brought to you by a small but dedicated team, who will stream the action live from our lambing shed on 1-22 March between 8am-8pm (GMT).

The Lambcam team is joined by two Amgueddfa Cymru Producers, Howl and Varsha, who will both take turns controlling the camera. They are also busy creating behind-the-scenes footage for Lambcam Extra that will be shared on Amgueddfa Cymru’s social media pages:

Facebook | St Fagans National Museum of History 
Facebook | Amgueddfa Cymru[FR1] [ED2]  
Instagram | Amgueddfa Cymru 
X | Amgueddfa Cymru Learning Department

We're expecting 492 lambs in total with a lambing rate of 190% – it’s promising to be a bumper year! The main headline for us as we start our lambing season is the number of multiples we are anticipating from the December scans. On average, we would expect anything up to 10 sets of triplets per year, but 2024 brings a new record for us with a total of 29 sets of triplets due! We are also expecting 1 set of quads, the first in a few years so there is a lot of excitement for their arrival too.

We currently have all the ewes expecting twins in the larger lambing shed, marked with 1 green dot on their backs. The singles, triplets and quad are in the smaller shed across the yard at the moment but they will be moved once more lambs are born and more space comes available in the larger lambing shed.

We welcome hundreds of schoolchildren to St Fagans and Llwyn-yr-eos Farm during the lambing season every year, but we also know that Lambcam is enjoyed in classrooms across the country, and we would love to hear from you! This year, we are launching a special challenge for schools watching online – more details about this will be announced next week.

For more information about our sheep at lambing time, check out these blogs from previous years: 

 We hope you enjoy watching again this year – and please keep in touch with us by leaving comments on the Lambcam webpage or on socials using #lambcam #sgrinwyna 

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Lambing in the life and economy of rural Wales and its farming families

Gareth Beech, 24 March 2023

Farming families in Wales who primarily keep sheep are dependent upon lambing for their main income for the year. A successful lambing season is essential for their farming livelihoods. A large proportion of the farm’s income will be from the sale of the lambs for meat. It’s a period of bringing new life on the farm, of care and nurturing the new-born lambs, long hours, sometimes in difficult conditions, to generate income for the farming families. 


The family farm still retains great importance in the Welsh rural economy.  

Many farms have sustained generations of the same families and have been an essential part of the Welsh rural economy and life through producing food, employment, and supporting ancillary rural industries and crafts for equipment, supplies and machinery.  


Lambing and harvesting, the busiest periods on the farm, still often include all the members of the farming families. Everyone is part of the care of the flock, delivering the lambs, their care and rearing, along with the essential tasks of feeding and watering, clearing out pens, applying treatments, and driving the ewe mothers and lambs out to the fields when strong enough. It is now common for a partner to have employment elsewhere with a separate income from farming. They still often work on the farm as well. Lambing continues twenty-four hours a day. It is unpredictable at what time of day or night a sheep might give birth during the lambing period.   


Traditional husbandry skills and knowledge, passed down over generations are combined with modern nutrition and animal health treatments.  The satisfaction, pleasure and relief of seeing new life arrive and flourish, is combined with the tiredness of long hours and night shifts, working in muck and mud, or in cold and wet conditions outside. There are the disappointments and frustrations of losses, which will directly affect income and profitability. The regular, repetitive tasks of clearing out pens, spraying disinfectant, laying new straw bedding, are essential for preventing diseases such as E-coli amongst the vulnerable new-born lambs.   


Modern lambing more likely to be done inside now in large sheds, rather than out in the fields as in the past. Lambing can take place in batches, timed by when the rams released to groups of ewes, to spread the work and lessen the intensity. Scanning ewes in advance will show which ewes are pregnant and with how many lambs, so they can be grouped and given the necessary attention and care. Ewes not pregnant would be kept on the fields. The timing of lambing takes place in Wales can be influenced by location, altitude and weather conditions, or whether aimed to sell at a specific time or for a particular demand.  


Welsh breeds such as Welsh Mountain and Beulah continue to be popular in upland and mountainous areas. The drive for better quality lambs to meet tastes at home and for export markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia has included using continental breeds such as Texels originally from Holland. Breeds on upland and hill farms in particular need to be hardy and be able withstand cold and wet conditions. Some new breeds haven’t flourished, being vulnerable to conditions such as foot rot because of the not being resilient in a damp climate.  


Lambing, like all aspects of modern agriculture, has evolved considerably based on the application of science and technology. The body for promoting the sale of Welsh lamb, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, describes the contemporary approach: ‘As one of the world’s leading producers of lamb, Wales has been at the forefront of developments in the sheep industry. As consumers’ tastes change, so has farming. Agriculture has also evolved, combining traditional husbandry passed down through generations in tune with Wales’s outstanding natural environment with new innovations to make the most of best practice in terms of nutrition and animal health.’  


Nutrition and animal health treatments aim to maximise carcase value, and new methods based on the results of research and development. One method is that of ‘sponging’, using progestogen, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. Flocks can be brought into season earlier and at the same time, lambing at a very specific time period, and earlier in the year. It can allow for more planning of labour and resources, and to produce lambs when there may be fewer new lambs for market. It can also mean a very intense, short period, especially if there are twins and triplets requiring more time and attention, or ewes with complications. 


The total value of Welsh lamb exports in 2022 was £171.5 million, an increase from £154.7 million in 2013. 


The number of sheep in Wales went over 10 million in 2017 for the first time in the twenty first century. Sheep numbers had previously fallen from about 12 million after the end of government payments to support agriculture based on the number of animals kept.  


How lambing in Wales will be in the future could be influenced by several factors: the number of sheep; consumer preferences; sustainability; and climate change. New trade agreements might offer new possibilities but also increased competition from cheaper imports. Exports of Welsh lamb to the Unites States finally resumed in 2022, and the countries of the Gulf and China are thought to have potential for increased exports. Changes to government payments in Wales to the Sustainable Farming Scheme will be based on environmental benefits and restoring bio-diversity, as part of a sustainable agriculture industry. Perhaps it is still partly a way of life, with a professional business approach, adapting to meet the nature of markets, with entrepreneurship to create new products for a sustainable and profitable industry.  


Most lambs will be sold for meat from 4 to 12 months old. At St Fagans, most of the female lambs will be either sold or kept as pedigree breeding stock. Most of the males will go for meat with a few of the best sold as breeding rams.  


In 2020, Welsh lamb was given Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the UK Department of Food Rural Affairs and Agriculture (DEFRA). Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) is a status awarded by the UK Government that protects and promotes named regional food products that have a reputation or noted characteristics specific to that area. It means that only lambs born and reared in Wales and slaughtered in approved abattoirs are legally described as Welsh Lamb. This superseded the previous EU PGI status awarded in 2003.  


In an upland and mountainous country unsuited to many types of agriculture but where the keeping of sheep flourishes, the annual lambing will always be an important part of it, for introducing new life, providing a viable farming business, and sustaining family farms.