Surviving against the odds, an historic cattle breed has been formally recognised for the first time since the 1960’s.  Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has just welcomed the very rare Albion cattle onto the Watchlist, as a recognised UK native rare breed. 

 

Originally from Derbyshire, where they were known as “Bakewell Blues” or “Blue Albions”, in recent years the Albion Cattle Society decided to lose the ‘blue’ to better reflect the variety of colours that can be found within the breed.

 

It has taken a small number of dedicated breeders many years to bring back the breed from the brink and prove its continued existence throughout the last century. During the 1960’s there was a deadly Foot and Mouth outbreak which decimated many Albion herds. This was coupled with the importation of dairy breeds such as the Holstein which proved very popular, at the expense of dual-purpose breeds like the Albion.

 

Despite these set-backs, a handful of breeders kept the breed going against the odds, swapping bulls to keep the animals from becoming too inbred.  In recent times, breeders have worked hard to recover the breed and increase its popularity.  Secretary of the Albion Cattle Society, Susannah Mannerings, inherited a herd of Albions from her mother, Dinah Whittingham, 8 years ago and with it a determination to see the breed recognised; “They are just a wonderful breed; so pleasing to the eye, with lovely temperaments; it is great to honour the debt of the Albion breeders of the past and now to be able to carry these genetics forward.”

 

Gail Sprake, Chairman of RBST said, “Here at RBST we proudly boast that no breed has become extinct since we formed in 1973, but we could so easily could have been proven wrong by failing to recognise these cattle. The Albions have had dramatic reversal of fortune since their heyday in the 1920s, but we hope that this recognition will herald the start of a new chapter for the breed.”

 

Adam Henson joined as a new breeder earlier this year, purchasing a herd which now lives at Cotswold Farm Park. The National Trust also look after an historic herd at High Lickbarrow near Windermere, which means the public can admire and support this incredibly endangered breed.