The trio of rare Albion cows are part of an effort by the celebrity farmer to increase the number of this critically rare breed in the country. The United Kingdom has 34 native cattle breeds, and 14 of these, including the Albion, are considered rare enough to be on the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s Watchlist.
“All rare breed cattle are important, but Albions are particularly special to me and it’s hugely important that we keep breeding them from both a genetic and heritage point of view, so I’m delighted that Brays Farm has taken three of them,” said Adam Henson.
The three cows have settled in well at the CRT’s Brays Farm, where tenant farmers Matthew Elphick and Betsie Edge are establishing a herd of this critically rare breed and will be creating new dairy products from their milk.
Matthew Elphick said: “I like old traditional breeds, plus the Albions are nice looking, robust, dual-purpose cows, which will thrive on a pasture-fed diet like our Dairy Shorthorns. I would like to use their milk to promote the breed by making a cheese dedicated to them.”
Adam Henson is a strong advocate for traditional rare breed farm animals so is delighted to see them on Surrey farmland. “I know Matthew has plans to keep breeding them and to develop his own Albion cheese, so that’ll be fantastic to see and taste.”
Brays Farm is a regenerative dairy farm, meaning that Matthew and Betsie are working to ensure their agricultural activities also allow nature to flourish at the 52-acre farm nestled in the Surrey Weald, on the edge of South Nutfield village. It is owned by the Countryside Regeneration Trust, a charity that has been championing the countryside for 30 years to create a balance between the needs of farming and wildlife.
The Albion cow is believed to be from the Welsh Black, a dual-purpose breed, crossed with a White Dairy Shorthorn. Originally from Derbyshire, Albions were previously also known as Bakewell Blues or Blue Albions, and they suffered a devastating decline in numbers following a Foot and Mouth outbreak in the 1960s.