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‘When they are gone, they are gone forever’ - Farm park is helping save ‘critical’ rare cattle breed

PUBLISHED: 06:14 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 06:14 20 August 2020

Jordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon Barnes

Jordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon Barnes

Simon Barnes

One of the UK’s rarest breeds of native cattle has been brought to a farm park in Breckland to help save these versatile animals from extinction.

Rare Albion cattle at Melsop Farm Park. Picture: Simon BarnesRare Albion cattle at Melsop Farm Park. Picture: Simon Barnes

The Albion breed is categorised as “critical” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with only 87 breeding females of pure Albion blood currently recorded in the UK.

But they now have a foothold in East Anglia after Melsop Farm Park, at Scoulton, near Watton, bought two females, named Blue Haze and Blue Mist, which are expected to calve in January.

Bred for both beef and dairy, the dual-purpose Albion was a popular commercial farm animal in the 1920s before herds were decimated by two outbreaks of Foot and Mouth disease in 1923 and 1967.

Numbers also dropped as a result of changing farming practices after the Second World War when dual-purpose breeds such as the Albion were replaced by herds of cows specifically bred for providing either milk or meat – but luckily a small handful of breeders kept the bloodline going.

Jordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon BarnesJordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon Barnes

Jordan Stone who owns Melsop Farm Park alongside his parents Keith and Sue, said he is committed to continuing those efforts to raise the profile of Albion cattle and preserve the threatened breed.

“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,” he said.

“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.

Jordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon BarnesJordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon Barnes

“By having them at the farm park I am hoping we can raise awareness of the cattle and their story.

READ MORE: A quarter of our native mammals are at risk of extinction, warns ‘wake-up call’ report

“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.”

Gail Sprake, chairman of trustees at The Rare Breeds Survival Trust 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.”

Jordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon BarnesJordan Stone with the rare Albion cattle which have been brought to Melsop Farm Park near Watton. Picture: Simon Barnes

“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.”


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