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exhibition number: Agriculture 29

Farms varied in size from hundreds of acres to about 20. At the end of the 19th century 30-35 acres were necessary for a farmer and his family to be self-sufficient in produce, but additional labour was required at harvest time. Each additional 50 acres required another full-time man to work it.

Small holdings

During the 19th century, three-quarters of farms in Ceredigion were less than 60 acres but were almost self-sufficient. Many small farms could not afford to purchase good new equipment. The occupiers of very small farms and small holdings had to find work elsewhere (such as in lead mines) to supplement their income.

In Troedyrawr parish at the end of the 19th century, 12 land holders held half of the 2,400 acres, 36 had farms between 15 and 30 acres, and 36 had less than 15 acres.


At the end of the 19th century farms where referred to in the following way:

'cow place' (lle buwch), 'two cow place' etc: a farm with enough land to maintain this number of cows. Farms without cows were dependent on others for skimmed milk and butter milk.

'one horse place' (lle ceffyl): a farm with only one horse. Such farmers were still dependent on help with ploughing (since two horses were required), but could make an additional income by haulage work.

'one pair place' (lle par o geffyl), 'two pair place' etc: a farm with one or more pairs of horses

These reflect the ability of the farmer to maintain the farm, and is no measure of the size of the farm in acres, which may have included waste or marginal land.

'a petty place' (lle bach)

'a considerable place' (lle jogel)

'a large place' (lle mawr): 150 acres or more


A very small farm at the end of the 19th century may have had 20 acres for 6 cows, 2 acres of corn, 10 rows of potatoes and 4 rows of mangles (a row being 100-120 yards long). The farmer would borrow horses from a neighbour to plough the land for growing crops, and a cart at harvest time. The farmer would pay for this by working on the neighbour's farm at harvest time.


Landlords often amalgamated farms to reduce the cost of maintaining buildings and to encourage better practice with the use of expensive equipment that a larger farm could justify purchasing.

Jenkins, David, (1971), The Agricultural Community in South-West Wales, p. 43-

Jenkins, David, (1998), 'Land and Community around the close of the nineteenth century' in Cardiganshire County History, III, 94-112

Jenkins, David, (1971), The Agricultural Community in South-West Wales, p. 42-3

COLYER, R.J., (1998), Agriculture and Occupation in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century Cardiganshire, Ceredigion County History, III, pp. 28