Breed History

Highland Cattle

One of Britain’s oldest, most distinctive, and best known breeds, with a long, thick, flowing coat of rich hair and majestic sweeping horns, the Highlander has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. Source: 'The Highland Breed' on the Highland Cattle Society website.

Originally known as the 'black cattle' (because that was their predominant colour) or Kyloes (from 'kyles' meaning the narrow sea straits over which the cattle were swum or ferried across to the mainland from the islands with the help of cattle drovers), this cattle is now called 'Highland' or 'Highlander'.

The reason why most Highlanders are red these days would apparently be due to Queen Victoria. During one of her visits to Scotland in the 1840's, she let folk know that she preferred the Red cattle as opposed to the Black ones – and so (as the Queen had commented), more Red cattle were bred and the number of Black cattle progressively declined. At Balmoral Estate, Queen Victoria created their own fold (a herd of Highlander's) and thus helped this native cattle to come back into fashion. Nowadays Highlanders can be found in many (cooler) parts of the world, mainly thanks to the good efforts of the Highland Cattle Society, which published the first Herd Book in 1885.

With their wonderful looks, their production of (we firmly believe) the best beef in the world, and their assistance in creating a better environment/wildlife habitat etc., not to mention their highly individual, inquisitive characters, makes these animals absolutely fantastic to live with!

For more information, visit the Highland Cattle Society web site.

Jacob Sheep

The Jacob sheep breed is said to be the old biblical breed. It was not until the 18th century however that they were imported to Britain from Spain, and even then they were not kept for their commercial potential. They are very attractive and can be easily recognised because of their horns (up to 3 sets of horns) – in fact some folk would take them for goats! The fleeces are also distinctive, with a mixture of colours (cream/brown/black). Highly prolific, they make excellent mothers and are heavy milking. The Jacob is versatile and will thrive in most conditions and types of management. They offer great wool from their fleeces and excellent meat too.

The Jacob Society was founded in 1969 to save the breed, which was still then considered as a parkland breed and to promote interest in the Jacob sheep breed in the UK and abroad.

For more information, visit the Jacob Sheep Society web site.

Kerryhill Sheep

This is a Welsh breed of sheep, the name coming from the Kerry hills (around the village of Kerry, Powys) where they first officially appeared in 1809 – this is also when the Kerry Hill Flock Book Society was founded. Back then this breed was numerous, nowadays it is part of the Rare Breeds Category – although it is definitely making a comeback as more and more fall for the appearance of the panda-looking sheep!

They also offer very high quality wool and the meat has excellent flavour.

For more information, visit the Kerryhill Society web site.