New book on quest to conserve rare breeds

The preservation of our genetic resources – our biological diversity – is an essential ingredient of sustainable life on Earth, and not something we can afford to lose. A new book written by the President of the White Park Cattle Society, Lawrence Alderson CBE, challenges often repeated ‘facts’ about livestock farming, straight from the horse’s mouth.   Rare breeds expert Lawrence argues for a reasoned and evidence-based approach from political and public circles.  He recounts the creation and development of the rare breed conservation movement, addresses extinctions and genetic safe-guarding measures, and considers where we go from here.

Challenged as we are by climate change, sustainability and feeding the world, perhaps it is these endangered animals that hold the answer.

The Quest to Conserve Rare Breeds is priced at £29.99 and can be ordered from the website of the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International.

Tribute to Bernard Hartshorn, former Chair of the White Park Cattle Society

We heard with great sorrow that Bernard Hartshorn passed away on 27th May in hospital where he had been ill for some time. Many members will recall the excellent Open Days which he hosted at Wimpole Home Farm. The remarkable docility of the White Park cattle and other breeds in a National Trust centre open to the public were a tribute to his understanding and handling of livestock.

Under his sympathetic management the Ash herd of White Park cattle earned an enviable reputation in the breed. He produced a succession of bulls that contributed a powerful improving influence and raised the status of the herd. Lucien, Larry, Michael, Niknak and Poplar are names that appear in the pedigree of many excellent animals.

I spent a great deal of time with Bernard during the years he was active in the Society. It was an immense pleasure to work with him. He was knowledgeable but always ready to listen and discuss; congenial and relaxed company but never forgot the task in hand whether it was a bull inspection or organisation of an Open Day. He exerted a huge influence, and both we and the cattle owe him a great debt.

He was chairman of the Society for six years (1998 – 2004). They included the difficult BSE and FMD crises when his calm authority was invaluable. His White Park work, and his wider farming activities, involved the whole family. His wife, Shirley who predeceased him, was secretary of the Society for seventeen years, and his daughter, Marie, for five years. Our deepest sympathy and condolences are with her and her family.

Lawrence Alderson, CBE
President, White Park Cattle Society 

Semen straws from new White Park bull are now available

Collection of semen from a Pass Plus White Park bull was completed by UK Sires in April 2020.

Chartley Miles (below) is a quiet bull who behaved impeccably during his stay in Devon for the semen collection.

Straws from Chartley Miles have been approved for world-wide export and are available to order from the Society office at a cost of £10 each.  UK Sires will also charge a despatch fee.

To order straws please contact the Society Secretary, Jane Hampson, on [email protected]

The Society also has semen straws available from two other Pass Plus bulls – Crane Majestic and Broadecton Clayton.  Please visit this page for full details.

New Agriculture Bill recognises importance of native breeds

The new Agriculture Bill which is currently passing through Parliament has given a commitment to support our native livestock (such as White Park cattle) and equines.  The Bill recognises that our native breeds have a low environmental footprint, high welfare standards and provide premium produce, as well as being a major part of our national heritage.   The Chief Executive of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust has commented on this new development as below:

Dispersal of White Park herd at Melton Native Breeds Sale on 14 September

The annual Melton Native Breeds Show and Sale, organised by Grassroots Systems Ltd, took place this year on Saturday 14 September at Melton Mowbray Livestock Market.

This year’s sale included the dispersal of the Manx herd of White Park cattle who had travelled from the Isle of Man.  Owner Paul Davis said about his cattle “They all are quiet and our two bulls are docile and well-behaved.”

The dispersal of the Manx herd comprised 11 cows (some with calves at foot) who been running with bull Manx Cosmopolis, 2 senior heifers, 7 heifers born in 2018 and 2 bulls.

Some of the Manx Herd foundation cows are from the Collegewood herd and were bred by John Barker.

We are glad to report that following the sale all Manx cattle found homes as breeding animals and the Society hopes to welcome some new members who purchased White Park cattle for the first time.


The Manx herd of White Park cattle on the Isle of Man

Over 50 members attend the 2019 AGM and Open day in Wales

Our 2019 AGM and Open Day was held on 10 August at Parc Grace Dieu Farm, near Monmouth by kind permission of Frank Sutton and his family.

After the AGM had concluded over 50 members listened to a presentation by local vet, Vicki Fisher, on the importance of bio-security.  We then enjoyed a delicious lunch organised by the Sutton family.

Following lunch two covered trailers arrived to take the members on a tour of Parc Grace Dieu and The Hendre.

During the tour we viewed the Gracedieu herd of White Park cattle on the farm, as well as the Longhorn cattle, North American Bison and Frank’s collection of historic John Deere tractors.  Frank also has a great passion for the American wild west which was evident in the totem poles on the farm and the original longhorn hides in the AGM meeting room.  We ended our tour with teas and biscuits back at the farm.

During the evening there was a three course meal of delicious White Park beef from the Gracedieu herd served at the Beaufort in nearby Raglan.

The Society would like to extend its thanks to Frank, Anna and Ben Sutton for all of their help in making our 2019 such an enjoyable occasion.

Biography of White Park Cattle Society President

A new book entitled ” Anarchy or Establishment” was published at the end of May 2019.  The biography is the journey of a shy boy from a remote Pennine hill farm to a man who is now a renowned international consultant on conservation genetics with a CBE for services to rare breeds – our very own President, Lawrence Alderson.

Lawrence has dedicated much of his life to saving traditional native breeds and was founder president of Rare Breeds International and the founder, scientific consultant, director and chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.  He is an eternal optimist with a ‘glass half full’ attitude to life, always looking for positive opportunities even when the outlook is bleak. His smiling northern sense of humour has carried him through many farming disasters such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

“Anarchy or Establishment” is 224 pages long and has 145 photos.  It retails at £25 and is available to order from Hayloft Publishing on [email protected] or 079 713 524 73.

Open day for 2019 to be held in Monmouthshire

Monmouth in south Wales is the location for our 2019 Open Day and AGM when we will be visiting the home of Council member Frank Sutton.

Frank and his family have lived at Parc Grace Dieu Farm near Raglan since 1981 and Frank is very well known in the area as he is the main John Deere dealer for south Wales.   The farm comprises 600 acres and as well as being home to the substantial herd of Grace Dieu White Park cattle is also home to Longhorn cattle, North American Bison and American Quarter Horses.  Frank has a great passion for the American wild west and the life of a cowboy which is evident in the authentic hides and artwork in the Sutton family home.

Our Open Day and AGM takes place on 10 August.

Updated and revised book on White Park cattle is now available for sale

Our dramatically distinctive White Park cattle which grace parkland and pasture in many parts of the country is Britain’s most ancient breed of livestock.    “A Breed of Distinction” by the Society President and White Park cattle expert, Lawrence Alderson CBE, deals comprehensively with both the ancient provenance of White Park cattle and their value in the context of modern farming.  Its narrative reveals a fascinating range of interest and knowledge, illustrated in both monochrome and colour images.

An updated and revised copy of “A Breed of Distinction” is now for sale via Amazon using this link.

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