A Norfolk farm park is helping to preserve one of the UK’s rarest breeds of native cattle.
The Albion, is included on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s watch list and there are currently only 87 breeding females of 100% pure Albion blood across the UK.
Melsop Farm Park have recently purchased two Albions, Blue Haze and Blue Mist, that are expected to calve in mid to late January to an Albion Bull called Blue Mink from the 1980s.
Jordan Stone who owns the Farm Park alongside his parents, Keith and Sue, said that Albion Cattle are a valuable part of British livestock and that he is committed to raising their profile and helping to protect and preserve them.
He said: “The Albion are not just a lovely looking breed with a great temperament, they are part of our heritage in this country and we need to be doing everything we can to try and preserve them.
“It is fantastic that Albions have been officially recognised as a true native breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust but we now need to work hard to increase the breed population.
“The message we really have to get across to people is that when endangered and rare breeds like the Albion are gone, they are gone forever.
“By having them at the farm park I am hoping we can raise awareness of the cattle and their story.
“The majority of our collection are rare breeds; I am really passionate about raising the profile of breeds like the Albion and getting people to understand just how important their heritage is.
“I want our visitors to go away knowing how rare breed animals have helped to shape our landscape, that’s the difference between the animals in our collection and other attractions.”
Bred for both beef and dairy, the dual-purpose Albion was set to become a major cattle breed of the UK in the 1920s before herds were decimated by two outbreaks of Foot and Mouth, in 1923 and 1967.
Numbers were hit again after the Second World War when dual-purpose breeds such as the Albion were replaced by herds with a single purpose, luckily a small handful of breeders kept the line going and the cattle that remain today are the descendants of these.
Gail Sprake Chairman of Trustees at The Rare Breeds Survival Trust described the position of Albion Cattle in the UK today as “critical.”
She said: “The Albion is one of our most endangered breeds of cattle in the UK and are categorised by Rare Breeds Survival Trust as category one, critical.”
“The Albions at Melsop Farm Park are the only examples of the breed in all of East Anglia and as such Jordan is playing a vital part in the national breeding programme in order to secure the future of this iconic breed.
“The geographical isolation of the Melsop herd means that valuable bloodlines are protected should animals in other parts of the country be compromised through any disease outbreak.
“A visit to Melsop Farm Park is worthwhile if only to meet and admire these very rare animals.”