From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cattle Breeds in the U.K.

Native cattle of the British Isles



Highland cowA Highland cow (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

For my readers who are interested in such things, here are some interesting facts about cattle in the U.K. The following figures show the predominant cattle breeds in the U.K. currently and the number of registered cattle in each breed.

Beef Breeds:
687,382 -- Limousin
332,098 -- Charolais
222,290 -- Aberdeen Angus
221,670 -- Simmental
186,730 --Belgian Blue
307,387 -- Other breeds

Dairy Breeds:
579,617 -- Holstein Friesian or Holstein Friesian crosses

Source: "Limousin is UK's Largest Numerical Cattle Breed" by staff, published March 10, 2007 on Trumpline Stackyard.

I suppose that the registration of every animal is part of their program to eradicate Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as mad cow disease.

The article where I found these statistics quotes the president of the British Limousin association. He says that the Limousin are "easy care, added value cattle" and that the "flexibility and predictability of Limousin cattle is providing a marked and demonstrable premium" for farmers. He almost sounds like a politician. Smile

In the list above, the only truly native UK breed is Aberdeen Angus, a black cattle from Scotland that is also a popular U.S. cattle breed.

Limousin and Charolais cattle are of French origin. Simmentals are from the Simme valley of Switzerland. The breed is the result of crossing the native cattle of the area with larger cattle from Germany.

Belgian Blues were developed in Belgium, but their bloodlines go back to a cross of Shorthorns (of the British Isles) and Friesian cattle.

I decided to compile a list of some of the UK's other native cattle breeds that didn't make the popularity list. Here it is, and each link should open a new window with images of that cattle breed.

  • Ayrshire - a dairy cattle breed from the County of Ayr in Scotland.
  • Chillingham - One of the old breeds of white cattle. This one is a wild native cow from Northumberland, small with upright horns and red ears. A very rare breed, with only about 100 animals left.
  • Devon - a cattle breed from the Devonshire, England area, once used as draft animals as well as for dairy and beef.
  • Guernsey and Jersey - dairy cattle breeds from the channel islands, Guernsey and Jersey
  • Hereford - a breed of red cattle that originated in western England and Wales. Once used as draft animals. Has been a popular beef breed in the U.S. for many years.
  • Highland - a hardy, shaggy, long-horned native breed from the highlands of Scotland. There were once two strains of this breed (Kyloe and Highlander), but in modern times they are all known as Highland cattle.
  • Shorthorn - an old breed mentioned in recorded history as early as the 1500's, probably descended from a short-horned ox known to be in England in the days of the Roman Empire
  • Lincoln Red - probably brought to the British Isles by the Vikings.
  • English Longhorn - Brindle cattle with long horns, once used as draft animals.
  • British White - An old breed of white cattle with "dark points" that can trace its history back 800 years; originally from the wild white cattle of Great Britain.
  • White Park - Another old breed of white cattle, smaller with larger horns, that can trace its history back to the Druids of pre-Christian Ireland. The White Park breed also has a long history in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Dexter and Kerry - descended from the Celtic black cattle of the highlands of southern Ireland.
  • Galloway and Belted Galloway - a old breed descended from the long-haired black cattle of the Galloway region of the Scottish lowlands.
  • Welsh Black - an old breed of horned black cattle from Wales, used for meat and milk.
  • There may be other breeds as well. These are just what I came up with fairly quickly.
  • Chillingham Cattle (Image from The Graphics Fairy)

4 comments:

Collagemama said...

Skyline Dairy in Lincoln sold milk from Golden Guernseys. As a kid, I imagined that Golden Guernseys were on a par with the goose that laid the golden eggs.

We had a school field trip in third grade to learn all about homogenizing and pasteurizing and making delicious ice cream at Skyline Dairy. Skyline made an excellent Swiss Almond ice cream and stellar Butter Brickle!

Anyway, when we rode the school bus out to the dairy, I was surprised that the cows didn't look gilded by King Midas.

Genevieve said...

Thanks for sharing that memory, Collagemama. I can identify with your lively little imagination. That sounds like something I would have thought too, being an avid consumer of fairy tales and all.

chrissie.lawrence said...

As a UK cattle breeder and agricultural journalist I read with interest your breakdown of UK breeds. The Limouisn certainly is dominant int his country, I breed them myself (60 pedigree organic cows), as well as a few Belgian Blue's and Aberdeen Angus, although I have a secret (or not so now) passion for the Galloway, a real native tradition! If your interested in seeing many pics of our UK treasures, visit my blog www.fwi.co.uk/takingstock.

All the best
Chrissie

Genevieve said...

I'm really glad you visited, Chrissie. Thank you for your interesting remarks. I enjoyed putting together the list. It was very interesting to me to read about and see some photos of the various native breeds of the U.K.

My father raised Aberdeen Angus in the Nebraska Sandhills when I was young, and then later, Angus x Charolais. But I remember at 4-H calf shows when I was young that several of the exhibitors had calves of less common breeds such as Highlands, Galloways and Shorthorns, as well as Angus and Herefords. I doubt that
a broad sample of cattle across that same area today would yield as much diversity.

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