In 2006 our son Tom following his graduation from university as a civil engineer but keen to continue the family's farming tradition, established the Wheatlands herd of pedigree Longhorns. Starting with two cows and their calves, the herd has now grown to around 60 cattle in total.
English Longhorns have a deep rooted history and were already predominate, as draught animals, in Northern England during the 16th and 17th centuries. Their milk was valued for butter and cheese because of its high butterfat content and their creamy white horns were treasured by manufacturers of buttons, cups, cutlery and lamps.
These animals were very different to the Longhorns of today, being long in the leg, narrow bodied and coarse, ideally suited to pulling a plough. Robert Bakewell (1725 ?1795) one of England's great agricultural revolutionaries had a vision of being able to introduce a cattle breeding programme which would lead to the production of better quality animals capable of feeding the growing urban population in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. By the use of selective breeding Bakewell laid the foundations of the breed as we know it today. Through the careful selection of cattle Bakewell improved the size and quality of the breed which became increasingly popular throughout England and Ireland until it was surpassed by the Shorthorn in the 1800's.
The Longhorn breed declined rapidly for nearly 200 years and was at risk of becoming rare by the 1950's and 60's. The trend for producing animals for the beef market was moving in the direction of cereal fed, housed cattle, which pushed producers towards the selection of cattle with shorter horns or polled to reduce injury. Thankfully the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, in 1980, stepped in and the breed's future was secured. With the efforts of RBST and growing interest in extensively reared, grass fed cattle, the Longhorn has made a dramatic comeback and in 2016 there were approx. 13800 cattle distributed over 398 herds in the UK and further afield.
The modern Longhorn has many pleasing characteristics: dark red brindle to light roan in colour with distinctive white markings along the spine and belly, sweeping bonnet horns, docile temperament, is hardy and possesses exceptional mothering qualities. Longhorn beef is highly sought after and regularly praised by TV chefs due to its succulent, tender and flavoursome character. Heston Blumenthal voted the Longhorn his favourite beef breed and Longhorn steaks were named as the best in Britain by Country Life magazine. Longhorn beef has also featured on The Great British Food Revival and Taste of Britain.
Wheatlands Longhorns have, over the years, been regular exhibitors at local and county agricultural shows, winning breed champion at Bakewell Show in 2015, and will be returning to the show circuit in 2018.
For more pictures of Wheatlands Longhorns please look at our Bubnell Cliff Farm Facebook page. Bubnell Cliff Farm Facebook page.
Bubnell Cliff Farm is currently the home of 2 Berkshire and Berkshire x Gloucester Old Spot Pigs.
The Berkshire is a rare breed of pig originating, as their name suggests, from the county of Berkshire. Currently there are less than 300 breeding sows in the UK.
Like the Longhorns much breed improvement took place during the 18th and 19th centuries and the breed became very popular, enjoying patronage from the aristocracy, including Queen Victoria.
As with all coloured pig breeds, the Berkshire suffered a serious decline in popularity following World War II when the demand for leaner bacon from white-skinned pigs increased and then again in the 1960s with the development of breeding companies which favoured white breeds. However the Berkshire has survived and, with an increasing interest in traditional meat produced extensively, a niche market exists. Berkshire pork tastes amazing and the crackling is to die for.