The White Park is probably the oldest breed of cow found in the British Isles. In Roman times Britain was famous for both cattle and slaves. White cattle with coloured points are first mentioned in old Irish sagas dating back almost 2,000 years. They are also mentioned in Welsh law records formulated by a series of rulers from 856 to 1197 AD at Dynevwr Castle. The current Dynevor herd dates to this time. The Chartley and Chillingham herds of England and the Cadzow herd in Scotland date to the mid-thirteenth century when herds in England and Scotland were enclosed in hunting chases. Writers of the time differed as to the origin of the herds. Some contended they were brought to Britain while others believed they were the direct descendants of the Wild White Bull that roamed the forests which once covered the British Isles.
In the early 1800’s there were more than a dozen pure White Park herds though most had been exterminated by the turn of the century. By 1940 only the Dynevor, Woburn, Whipsnade and Cadzow herds survived as domesticated herds, and the Chillingham and Vaynol as semi-feral herds living wild. When the Rare Breeds Survival Trust was formed in Britain in 1973 these remaining six herds were given the communal name “White Park”. In recent years the White Park numbers have increased to the point where they are now classed as a Minority Breed which means, broadly speaking, that there are now between 750 and 1500 registered breeding females. It was a loin of White Park beef that was so enjoyed by James the First that he knighted it, thus generating the word Sir Loin.
The Highland is not a recognised rare breed but we like them so we keep them at Baylham. They are very hardy, preferring to stay out in all weathers and we find that they sweat if we bring them indoors in the winter. They have been supplied with the best weapons that any of our cattle possess but they are totally soft and, if put with all our other cows, would be at the bottom of the pecking order.