One of the UK’s most popular farmers, Adam Henson, has helped bring a rare breed of native cattle back from the brink of extinction.
With just 170 remaining, Albion cattle have been placed on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) watchlist, securing their future in the British countryside.
This has been achieved thanks to the determination of a small number of dedicated breeders, including Mr Henson who has started breeding Albion cattle again at his Cotswold Farm Park near Cheltenham.
The Albion, a traditional breed originating from Derbyshire, had its heyday in the 1920s but has been decimated over the years by Foot and Mouth and modern farming. Mr Henson has a great interest in rare breeds, ignited by the work of his father, Joe Henson, who founded the Rare Breed Survival Trust in 1973 with a group of farmers and scientists. He has continued his father’s work through the Cotswold Farm Park, popular for the opportunity it gives visitors to see less common animals up close. Records show that Albion cattle have been on the farm before, but, discovering their scarcity, Mr Henson bought an Albion bull and seven cows at a sale earlier this year.
Bred for both beef and dairy, the dual-purpose Albion was set to become a major cattle breed of the UK in the 1920s before herds were decimated by two outbreaks of Foot and Mouth, one in 1923 and the second in 1967.