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Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm

Cefn Cae’r Ferch farm in Pencaenewydd, near Pwllheli, is a sheep farm that diversified in August 2015 to additionally provide holiday accommodation for visitors.

Learning points

  • Using video for marketing can be effectively achieved using superfast broadband technologies, and, if done well, is likely to be have more impact than using simple pictures or text.
  • Moving to superfast broadband can enable many more activities to be carried out online, potentially saving time, effort and, ultimately, money.
Picture of Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm logo

Overview of the business

Cefn Cae'r Ferch farm is a family business that doesn’t employ anyone extra full-time, but does take on contractors to do occasional jobs such as shearing and sileaging. There is also the very occasional need for cleaners for the holiday cottage.

The farm business sells Texel sheep, a popular breed of commercial sheep originating from the island of Texel, Netherlands. The farm’s customers are based across Britain, and the business also travels to market at Lanark (Scotland), Carlisle, Welshpool and South Wales to buy and sell animals.

Establishing and recording the pedigree of the product is important for indicating its likely quality. The business registers lambs online with the Texel Sheep Society using their BASCO database. This digital registry details more than 1.5 million pedigrees dating back to 1974, along with extensive performance data for carcase and growth traits. It has become a valuable resource for research into the breed and offers members of the society and their customers, extensive information - enabling more accurate decision making.

The accommodation side of the business includes a holiday cottage and a static caravan for holiday lets. The holiday accommodation can be booked online.

Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm information flow diagram

Highlighting the internal and external communication flows of the business.

Broadband adoption

The holiday cottage had been struggling to get broadband download speeds of 1 Mbps. Having installed four Smart TVs, which place relatively high demands on broadband, some customers complained at the relatively slow broadband speeds.

The business consequently adopted superfast broadband with BT around November 2016 (Fibre to the premises, FTTP) enabling download speeds of up to 80 Mbps. It subsequently renegotiated an upgrade to 200 Mbps for an extra £5 per month. This enables visitor expectations of accessing television on demand services, like Netflix, Amazon TV and YouTube, to be met.

Superfast broadband has made a “huge difference” to the holiday and farm sides of the business.

Before having superfast broadband the business couldn’t do as much as it wanted to do on the internet because the process would either crash, or it would be too slow and after twenty minutes would ‘time-out’ before we could press ‘make payment’.

Manager, Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm

Cefn Cae’r Ferch farm has also invested in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and phone boosters from EE and Vodafone that plug into the mains supply and ports on the broadband router, to offer an enhanced 3G signal.

IT skills capacity

The business does not employ any staff to deal with IT related issues, relying on in-house digital skills to manage day-to-day activities. The manager has attended a free course at Bangor University on the use of Facebook. This course was instrumental in moving the business to learn to use video in its marketing.

On the course I learned that, in terms of marketing, video is the way forward. People are more likely to look at video than pictures or just text, and if you write a long paragraph about something, people, after two or three lines if it gets boring, will just click away to something else.

Manager, Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm

Use of digital technologies

Now, with superfast broadband capability, the business is able to easily upload videos onto Facebook to promote the holiday cottage.

It started as an experiment on Facebook to begin with. Just for a laugh, I took a video of ducks stealing the ram’s feed from the troughs, to show my neighbour who had the ducks. I put it on Facebook to show him on the holiday cottage page and we got something like a thousand views!

Manager, Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm

Some subsequent videos of farm happenings, such as ewe lambing, have had over thirteen thousand views. Although it is difficult to put a figure on how much this has contributed into increased numbers of visitors, the business does believe that it definitely helps increase interest in the location and provides an extra impetus for interested families to come and visit.

Cefn Cae’r Ferch farm uses Facebook to advertise their Texel sheep for sale to Facebook ‘Friends’ all across the country, at a relatively low cost compared with putting something in the Farmers Guardian or the Farmers Weekly.

Furthermore, it also saves time in not having to phone the adverts in, and provides greater confidence that actual pedigree Texel sheep breeders are seeing the advert. Other social media platforms such as Twitter are also used by the business. The business sometimes chooses to ‘boost’ an advert on social media – on Facebook this typically involves spending around £12.

E-mail has proved very helpful in keeping a paper trail of any enquiries/issues with the various forms that the farm has to complete for Welsh Government.

If we email them through the Government online site, its down in black and white, and we get a receipt back saying they’ve received it. And you can contact them at any time of the day or night.

Manager, Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm

Many of the European Union farming regulatory requirements on Cross Compliance (eg standards for keeping land in ‘Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition’ GAEC) can now be processed online saving time and effort compared with past ‘by-hand’ completion methods.

Cloud storage is used to sync the business mobile phones, laptop and desktop computers. Online banking has also been adopted by the business, and considered to be “very handy” for making payments, checking balances, or switching money from one account to another.

Business performance

Moving to superfast broadband enabled technologies didn’t present any substantial difficulties at all to the business - although the two relatively mature computers being used by the business (each around 4 years old) did require some updates before they were working efficiently. This was overseen at a local computer shop. The business has subsequently also invested in an iMac laptop to better link with the business iPhones.

At holiday accommodation in the UK, access to broadband has become a visitor expectation rather than a luxury. Staying customers at the farm are now better able to keep in contact with their families, friends or business associates elsewhere- superfast broadband enabling applications such as Skype to be used - and access entertainment channels such as Netflix.

Overall, the business is able to do many more activities online, saving time and effort.

You’ve got to move forward with the times. If you don’t you’ll be left behind. Moving forward with technology at this present time is a must.

Manager, Cefn Cae'r Ferch Farm