By Val Porter
(Shire, Paperback, 9780747807643, 56pp.)
Publication Date: January 19, 2010
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Since the eighteenth century, British cattle breeds have spread worldwide and have made the names of several counties famous in distant lands. Yet some of those breeds have become extinct and many others have become so rare in their own country that they are in danger of disappearing.
In the hope of awakening enthusiasm for the diversity that still makes British cattle so interesting, this book describes all the existing breeds and many of those that have already gone. Diversity is crucial; cattle provide meat, milk, leather, muscle power and a wide range of by-products, and each breed was developed to meet specific demands. Most were perfectly suited to the environment in which they first developed - be it moorland, island, hill country or lush lowland. Agricultural practices and the markets that farmers serve change, but there will always be a place for good breeds that can meet different needs.
Val Porter has written several books on breeds of livestock worldwide (cattle, pigs and goats) and on caring for cows in particular. Cows are something of a passion: she worked with a Jersey dairy herd and kept her own Jersey housecows in the 1970s, and through them she became interested in rare breeds of cattle at a time when the 'black-and-whites' were so dominant that there was little space left for anything more colourful. She has been a member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust for many years and was co-author of the Trust's history, Saving the Breed.