An ancient breed, numerous in the Severn Vale as early as the 13th Century. Valued for their milk (producing Double Gloucester Cheese), their beef, and for producing strong draught oxen.
In 1796 a Gloucester cow named Blossom played an important role in the creation of the Smallpox vaccination.
During the 20th Century, numbers seriously declined, owing to the commercialisation of more popular breeds. By 1972, there was only 68 head of cattle left in existence. It was at the dispersal sale of Wick Court one of largest herds left, that a group enthusiasts gathered to save every breeding female, Clifford’s father Eric was part of this group. Following on from this, a new society of breeders was formed, and numbers started to increase.
Gloucesters are a stunning animal. They are medium in size, with a board forehead, long cheek and roman nose. Their body colour is a rich deep mahogany with their legs and head being black. They have a long white stripe along their back (known as finch back), down the hind quarters and tail and along under the belly. They have medium length upswept horns with black tips.
The cows are docile and amenable and respond well to individual care. They take well to hand milking and make ideal house cows. They have a flat lactation curve giving an even production for up to 300 days. This is kind to their udders and helps the longevity for which they are renowned, often breeding for 12 – 15 years.
Gloucester’s are now regarded as dual-purpose animals but have also been used as draught animals in the past. Yields of milk are not high by modern standards, but what is produced is ideal for cheese making notably Single and Double Gloucester cheese. Indeed, the former can now only be made on farms in Gloucestershire which have a pedigree herd of Gloucester cows. ‘Gloucester Beef’ is of high quality, fine grained and well marbled – benefiting from the animals long maturing period.
The Noent Herd
Originally established by Clifford’s Father Eric Freeman in 1971 with the purchase of two cows from Tetbury market. Over the last fifty years it has been one of the leading and influential herds within the breed, with most modern Gloucester’s having Noent in their pedigree.
In the beginning Eric was continually active in preserving the breed, now Clifford is very keen on improving the breed from within, so with the latest DNA profiling techniques is hoping to make the breed a sustainable option for small units.
The Noent herd has been very successful in the show ring standing top of the line on many occasions.
The herd currently has over 160 females and 100 males producing meat for local butchers, restaurants, and for Clifford’s two restaurants The Hall and The Beach situated on the Isles of Scilly.
The Ryeland is an ancient breed of downland sheep, thought to have originated in the Leominster area of Herefordshire. It is said that the Ryeland is probably the oldest of the recognized British breeds of sheep and that no other British breed can claim greater historical data. The Ryeland Society was founded in 1903 and the first flock book was published in 1909, but various authorities identify the Ryeland back to the 12th century and the breed has a fairly clear history of some 800 years. They have been renowned for more than six centuries, since the time when the monks of Leominster bred sheep in the rye growing areas for the dual purpose of meat from the lambs and the production of a fine woollen fleece ideal for hand spinning.
Until recently they were classified as a rare breed, but thanks to dedicated breeders and the Rare Breed Survival Trust, there are now sufficient numbers in Britain for it to be classified as a ‘minority’ breed.
The Ryeland was originally best known for its production of fine wool and its natural habitat ensured a hardy constitution. Today the Ryeland is increasingly valued for its tasty meat, gentle nature and relatively easy to look after, characteristics which make it popular with small holders. Also sought after by commercial breeders for quick maturing lambs and group 1 scrapie resistance genotyping.
The Ryeland has a smart appearance when walking or standing with its head held high. They are of medium build with a straight back and a fairly deep board chest. They have a good quality fleece covering every part including belly and part of the face. The main pedigree breed is white, you can get coloured ryelands.
The Ryeland is a dual-purpose sheep which produces high quality wool and tasty meat, the Ryeland lends itself to extensive farming as it is a sheep that does well on good grass alone and has a placid temperament and easy to manage.
The Everes’s Flock
Established in 2006 with five shearing ewes the flock now has 130 females producing around 170 lambs. The ewes are put to the ram in November, so lambing takes place indoors in April.
At the end of April, the ewes and lambs are turned to grass, weaning is in August – the males are usually kept to become hogget and slaughtered in the spring, ewe lambs kept are normally kept as replacement ewes.
The grass-fed lamb is supplied to local butchers, restaurants, and Clifford’s two restaurants The Hall and The Beach on situated on the Isles of Scilly.
Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig
The first pedigree records of pigs began in 1913, much later than for cattle, sheep, and horses because the pig was considered a peasant’s animal and a scavenger so was never highly regarded.
Old Spots originated around the Berkeley Vale on the southern shores of the River Severn in south west England. No other pedigree spotted pig was recorded before 1913, so today’s Old Spot is the oldest such breed in the world!
Usually kept on dairy farms and in cider and perry pear orchards, where dairy waste and windfall fruit supplements grazing.
Besides its correct title and variations such as Gloucester Spot or just Old Spot, the breed is also known as The Orchard and The Cottager’s Pig. Local folklore says that the spots on the back are bruises from the falling fruit.
The Gloucestershire Old Spot is a large breed of pig, white is colour with at least one distinct black spot. It has lop ears, that when the pig is mature will cover most of its face.
West of England Geese
The West of England is an ancient auto-sexing breed that has existed in Great Britain prior to 1600. The history is rather vague, but it is likely the auto-sexing attributes of the breed were developed over many centuries without the influence of foreign breeds.
Although they are a different breed to the Pilgrim, they are likely to feature in its ancestry. The first West of England geese were likely to have been exported to the New World at the time of the Pilgrim Fathers. The current struggle is to find pure stock.
The West of England geese have an orange bill and blue eyes, weighing between 6-9kg. The gander is white, and the female is white with clear grey markings on its head, neck, back and thighs. They have a calm temperament.
Khaki Campbell Ducks
The breed was developed by Adele Campbell of Uley, Gloucester. She heard of an Indian Runner Fawn white duck which had laid 182 eggs in 196 days and purchased this prolific bird to mate with a Rouen. The result was a breed which could be relied upon to produce an average of 200 eggs per year. In addition to the Indian Runner and Rouen, wild duck (mallard) was also used to make the breed hardier.
The original Campbell drakes had a dark green head, grey back, and pale claret breast, black stern, and white ring around the neck. They can come in three colour varieties Khaki, dark and white.