EDNYFED Jones farms 1,500 acres of hill land in the Cambrian mountains near Tregaron, mid Wales.
His ATV is a vital tool to manage his flock of 1,700 Welsh Mountain breeding ewes and in 2020 he chose to invest in a new Yamaha Grizzly 700 to help with the work.
“I had the same ATV for 10 years and wanted to upgrade. Andrea at Dilwyn Roderick & Co in Llandovery suggested the Grizzly because I move the sheep off the hills in the winter and need plenty of power to pull a trailer on the steep gradients,” he says.
As part of the Glastir environmental management scheme Mr Jones moves the sheep from the mountain to allow plant growth which helps hold water and reduce flooding.
However, he does not simply move them to land lower down, he transports many of them to Devon.
“I know, it’s not what you would expect, but I have been living for part of the week with my wife near Tiverton for nearly 20 years.
“I round up the sheep using my quad and move them to rented land in the south west over the harshest part of winter,” he says.
This split way of life has its advantages because Mr Jones avoids the worst months of winter on the mountain when some areas are almost impossible to reach.
“I would have to put tracks on my quad and, even then, I would not want to be up there in the worst conditions.
“The sheep would be fine, I have been up there in sub-zero temperatures and 40 mile an hour winds with the thermal sight I use for shooting and all you can see is red heads and legs, the bodies of the sheep are completely insulated, they really are a remarkable breed,” he says.
He starts lambing on April 14 and spends much of the following three weeks on the mountain checking on the flock. He chooses to supplement their diet with bags of sugar beet in the run up to, and immediately after, lambing. This requires frequent trips up and down various hills to distribute the feed.
“The new Yamaha is already well run in and has performed brilliantly. It is the first automatic quad I have owned, and I would never go back now.
“It also has power steering which improves the handling and reduces fatigue,” he says.
The Yamaha also has a winch as standard which is useful to load the quad on to a trailer or pull it out of ditches.
“I think I have had more for my money with this quad. To have a winch is one thing but it also has a tracker, so if the ATV rolls over 45 degrees it will send out messages to my emergency contacts to enable them to find me. This is a great comfort because the terrain is very tricky on the tops,” he says.
When the sheep are moved off the mountain Mr Jones rents land in the south west which often needs fences laying or repairing. “I have bought a Rappa winder which attaches to the quad and lays the fence in no time. It has saved me hours which in the cold winter months is a real help,” he says.
The Grizzly is fitted with a low range automatic gearbox which offers better control on steep gradients. Mr Jones has also found it useful when rounding up sheep.
“I rarely use it for hills because the quad is stable enough, but it is really useful to lower the revs of the engine and make the quad quieter. This way I don’t startle the sheep,” he says.
His previous manual quad relied on a handbrake to prevent it rolling on the hills, but the automatic benefits from a park function. “I never thought about it, but as soon as I started using the Yamaha, I realised that it couldn’t roll away if I left it in park.
“The handbrake on the old quad would fail from time to time and I would have to retrieve it from a nearby ditch, whereas this one doesn’t move an inch,” he adds.
Despite being automatic the Grizzly is more economical. Compared to a bike of 10 years old it uses significantly less fuel.
“I had a 500cc quad before and this one is 700 and automatic, so I immediately expected the fuel consumption to go up.
“I was amazed when I did my usual routes around the mountain to find there was still a quarter left in the tank,” he says.
The extra power enables the Yamaha to perform at lower revs which uses less fuel, especially on the steep land he has to traverse.
“It’s been the best bit of kit I have bought for years. It gives me more confidence, is more economical and the automatic box and power steering make it easier to manage on the mountains.
“I just hope I can enjoy 10 years on it like I did my last quad,” he concludes.