Michelin green star restaurant Terroir Tapas in Southbourne, Bournemouth, held a 7-course White Park beef lunch on Saturday 15 April 2023 to allow diners to experience the quality of this special meat. The beef was served in various forms, such as smoked, braised and tartare, for 5 of the courses and was followed by 1 cheese course and 1 desert.
During the lunch Hogget and Boar butchery delivered a talk about the beef, which was sourced from a WPCS member’s farm, and let diner’s know about their high welfare practices which ensure that all their meat originates from grass-fed and free-range animals.
Afterwards, White Park Cattle Society President, Lawrence Alderson CBE, spoke about the history of White Park cattle and gave an overview of the breed.
The location of our 2023 AGM and Open Day has been confirmed as Chartley Estate, Stowe by Chartley, Stafford. We are being kindly hosted by David and Virginia Johnson. The date of the event is Saturday 17 June.
Chartley Estate has a long and interesting history which can be traced back to the bronze age. When visiting Chartley you will find yourself standing on the same ground where ancient Britons hunted aurochs, Vikings came to plunder, feudal barons fought, royal visitors hatched treason and Cromwell’s men rampaged. The estate has the remains of a Norman castle, which we will be visiting during our open day.
Chartley Estate is also home to the Castle herd of White Park cattle.
In December 2022 Henry Rusch was unanimously voted on as the new Chair of the White Park Cattle Society. Henry has been a member of Council since June 2016 and a member of the Society since 2009. Henry and his wife Julie farm in the stunning location of the White Peak, north of Ashbourne in the remote hamlet of Back of Ecton.
Henry has been shadowing Lawrence Alderson and Alistair Black to become our third bull inspector, and to show his dedication Henry conducted two bull inspections whilst on holiday in France! These were for member Eric Bautsch who re-located to Oradour-St-Genest in November 2020. Henry also bred Pass Plus bull Broadecton Clayton who is available as semen via UK Sires.
Expanding our breed overseas is a special interest for Henry and he has arranged for several embryos from one of his cows to be transplanted in host dams in two herds New Zealand. These embryos resulted in White Park calves over the other side of the world and 2 new members for the Society.
Before becoming a full-time farmer in 2009 Henry was a chartered accountant and company director, so he also brings considerable business experience to the Society. Henry is also a Trustee of a local care farm and has taken part in the Fresh Start initiative which matches new entrants to farming with farmers in their area who have spare land. This arrangement also means that Henry and Julie can indulge their other passion of travelling, knowing that their stock is being cared for by their tenants whilst they are away.
We very much look forward to working with Henry in his new role.
At our December 2022 Council meeting we witnessed the ending of an era, when Alistair Black announced that he would be stepping down from the Chair. Alistair has been the Chair of the Council of the White Park Cattle Society for 18 years, but he has now decided that the time has come to take a step sideways. Alistair will be remaining a member of Council.
A broad Scot, who grew up in Angus Tayside, Alistair, his wife Ella and 2 sons re-located to the Norfolk/Suffolk border 30 years ago when he took on the role of Estate and Farm Manager at Ditchingham. It was here that he was introduced to White Park cattle, as the estate is home to the Chartley herd – one of 3 heritage herds for our breed. Alistair is an experienced stockman and became an authority on our breed, and is now one of 3 bull inspectors, working alongside President Lawrence Alderson and new inspector Henry Rusch, to ensure that only the best bulls are registered for breeding. Alistair remains one of our go-to members for advice on conformation, the potential of a calf and the management regime for cattle, having sold quality carcases to The Savoy.
As Chair of our Society, Alistair has led our Council members on their discussions surrounding our strategic direction. He has also sourced our AGM locations and made all of the arrangements, along with the help of our Treasurer James Gill, and the host members for the open day. Alistair also offers support to our Secretary, Jane, and has always made himself available for advice.
Our President, Lawrence Alderson, has worked with Alistair for 20 years. On hearing that Alistair was stepping down Lawrence said, “during almost two decades as Chairman of Council of the White Park Cattle Society Alistair Black has demonstrated a level of commitment that will be difficult to follow. His deep knowledge of our special breed is matched only by his progressive leadership and energetic enthusiasm which has propelled him around the country to visit many breeders and their herds. The Society owes him heartfelt and grateful appreciation for his immense work.”
It is difficult to estimate how many hours of his time Alistair has donated to the Society over the years, but suffice to say, we are all incredibly grateful for his generosity. Alistair has been instrumental in shaping us into the thriving Society that we are today, and we now look forward to moving forward to a new era with a new Chair.
At our Council meeting on 10 December 2022 Henry Rusch presented Alistair with a porridge spurtle (stirrer) as a present. We will also be making a presentation to Alistair at the 2023 AGM, to allow members to show their own appreciation for his support.
We were recently contacted by the owner of a pub in Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire which was re-launching after a period of closure. The Manager was a fan of White Park cattle and wanted to use an image of a White Park bull on his new pub sign. Not surprisingly, the pub is named The Bull’s Head!
Luckily, we had a photo of Smoile Elgar, taken by his owner Debbie Dann, which fitted the bill perfectly. So, following the relaunch of the pub Elgar is now enticing customers to sample the delicious English and Thai food on offer at the pub.
Smoile Elgar is a Pass Plus bull bred by Anthony and Pat Milner and has so far sired 24 Stoneleigh calves for Debbie Dann and Alan Hunt. Sadly, Anthony Milner passed away before he could hear the news about Elgar’s fame.
Our new mugs are designed to cut down on the wastage of using a cardboard mug every time you pop into a coffee shop to buy a take-away drink. The screw top allows you to carry your coffee safely back to your home, car or office.
Council member Frank Sutton and his daughter Anna arranged the production of these mugs and kindly donated them to the Society to enable to us raise some much-needed funds.
The mugs are 14cm tall and have a capacity of 35 cl. They are microwave and top rack dishwasher safe and were made in the UK from BPA free plastic.
The mugs are for sale at £10 each or £9 each if you buy 5 or more at the same time. Postage and packing are included.
A new book just published by the White Park Cattle Society President, Lawrence Alderson, states that non-intensive grazing of permanent pasture is an integral component of a survival strategy for our plant, and therefore White Park cattle have a role to play. Precarious Planet: a Survival Strategy for Earth is published by and available from KDP (Amazon) in hardcover, paperback and as an e-book.
In his book, Lawrence challenges false ‘received wisdom’ and presents honest information for the benefit of both politicians and the general public. He writes with evidence-based conviction to apply principles and lessons learned during his lifetime to the survival of life on Earth.
Catfield Hall in Norfolk was the location for the 2022 AGM and Open Day of the White Park Cattle Society held on Saturday 18 June. The event was kindly hosted by Mr and Mrs Tim Harris, who own the Catfield herd of White Park Cattle. The Catfield herd of White Park cattle comprises 64 females and 14 males and is one of our largest herds in the Society. Tim is a prolific breeder of bulls and over the years has produced 33 registered males.
Thirty-five members and guests joined us at Catfield. During the AGM meeting we said farewell to two Directors, John Barker and Guy Myddelton, and welcomed a new Director, Jessica Byrne-Daniel. An open forum followed the meeting when members were able to raise queries and issues for discussion.
Following the AGM, we undertook a tour of the Catfield estate to view the White Park cattle, Norfolk Horn sheep and rare Eriskay ponies. We also saw the impressive cattle handling systems that Tim has installed at the estate and heard about the psychology behind the systems which ensure that the cattle are as stress free as possible when being moved and handled. Our day concluded with a three-course evening meal at nearby Sprowston Manor Hotel.
We would like to thank Tim and his wife Geli for their wonderful hospitality.
You can read more about the event in this article in the Eastern Daily Press.
In November 2020 one of our members, Eric Bautsch, relocated lock, stock and barrel from the peak district of Derbyshire over the English Channel to Oradour-St-Genest, which is in Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in west-central France. The family is now living on a 170-acre holding, with their 9 White Park cattle and 30 Highland cattle. As you can imagine, the move required a great deal of organisation, including sourcing a suitable haulier and arranging the pre and post movement health tests. Eric has kindly written us an article about the move, from getting the cattle lorry stuck on a slope in Derbyshire to arriving at a new home in France with rotten fences. Please visit this page to read the full article.
By Lawrence Alderson, CBE, President of the White Park Cattle Society
A recent enquiry regarding the Second World War caused me to search the archives of the Dynevor herd. There were confirmed reports that a Luftwaffe bomber flying up the Tywi valley in South Wales caused considerable concern. In particular it was thought the white cattle might be used as a navigational aid by German pilots because of their distinctive appearance. A colourful and amusing story appeared in several publications claiming the cattle were camouflaged to hide them from aerial view. Although many dismissed it as apocryphal whimsy it justified some research.
As early as the 1950s an opinion was expressed that “the herd was camouflaged with a green dye” and an article written in 1991 stated “it is reported that during the Second World War, because the cattle were clearly visible against the green background, they were painted with camouflage colouring to hide them from enemy aircraft. Evidently the first shower of rain wasted that effort”. I made a similar statement in ‘A Breed of Distinction’ (1997) which I repeated in ‘Breeding the Best (2019) – “towards the end of the twentieth century older people in the Llandeilo area remember the cattle were marked with green camouflage paint during the Second World War which unfortunately served only to cause war within the herd as the animals did not recognise each other.”
So where does he truth lie? In 1997 I had correspondence with a retired veterinary surgeon who was born in Llandeilo in the 1920s. I quote from his letter of 1 May to me:
“During the war I was away at Veterinary school, but I well recall my uncle who was then farming directly opposite Dynevor Park, across the River Towy, relating to me the saga of the estate staff efforts at camouflaging the white cattle from being sighted by German aircraft, when the possibility of an invasion became imminent after Dunkirk. The cattle were all collected and covered in an oil-based cement paint! The following day the park was like a slaughterhouse, the cattle had all regarded each other as strangers and fought throughout the night: this was confirmed to me in conversation with the late Vivian John, who had attended the herd as their Vet Srgn from before the war until their dispersal due to double death duty.”
He is the most reliable source, firstly as his parents were tenants of the Dynevor Estate and his family had been employees for several generations, and secondly as his account was confirmed by the veterinary surgeon who was responsible for the herd at that time and until I purchased it in the mid-1970s.