Welcome to the Langtree Herd of Albions
by John Thompson
In 2018, an article appeared in the Western Daily press, alongside a photograph, announcing the fact that with only approximately 170 breeding females left in the Country, the Albion breed of cattle were in very real danger of being lost. At this time, the RBST accepted that due to this depletion in numbers, the Albion Breed should be included on the Priority list.
Having kept sheep for several years because of the Tuberculosis in cattle situation here in the South West, was this the time for me to keep cattle again?
The Government Pilot Scheme for the culling of Badgers, had begun here in West Somerset, & with a decline in the incidence of bovine TB, I made the decision.
Having contacted the Secretary of the Society expressing my interest in the breed I was lucky enough to be pointed in the direction of a traditional & knowledgeable farmer down in the depths of Cornwall, who was reducing his Buthyn herd due to health issues. He was a man who had forgotten more than most people knew about Albions, and has subsequently given up keeping them which is a great shame for the breed.
I purchased my first Blue Albion cow from down in Cornwall - Buthyn Maud who was in calf to Buthyn Peanut, as well as Scout Beck Karen a white maiden heifer which was kindly put to the bull before delivery. Maud proved to be a very productive cow producing four heifer calves in a row. Karen produced a blue heifer then two sets of twins, unfortunately one heifer and one bull calf on each occasion!
At this point the ACS Chairman, who was milking Albions alongside Brown Swiss cows, decided to reduce his herd numbers, which gave me the opportunity to purchase four more heifers, & a bull, Betchton Snowy Tristan. ‘Tristan’ was the most unrelated bull for my herd available at the time, - the AI bulls at stud, being too closely related to the majority of my herd.
This now finds my current herd numbers standing at one mature bull, one homebred young bull, eight breeding cows, one bulling heifer, and seven of this year’s calves (four steers, & three heifers) with two more cows due to calve.
I feel the breed has great potential, but like all rare breeds needs a niche market to aid its recovery. There is no doubt that the breed is divided between some very milky cows, and the beefier type of animal. My concern is that the ‘milkiness’ of the breed will be lost, and would like to see the milkier strains having their production developed so that they can be a viable contributor into the dairy industry.
Having recently being elected onto the Committee, I believe that the gene pool needs to be DNA tested while the numbers are small. This will not only ensure the purity of the breed, but will also allow for any future genetic challenges to be addressed. A herd competition would further the development and improvement of the breed by showcasing its potential, and would create further interest in the Albion cattle. I would also encourage as many breeders to enter local Agricultural Shows, again, to promote the breed, & generate interest from the wider public.