News and Events
Breed Analysis Reports
Annual Breed Analysis Reports, prepared by Lawrence Alderson CBE, are now available on the website on the Home Page, under the Breeding tab. Lawrence was a Founder of RBST and Founder President of Rare Breeds International. He is author of many books, papers and articles relating to genetics and rare breeds and he is actively involved in several breed societies and livestock enterprises. As the gene pool of Shetland cattle is small, breeders are urged to inform themselves when making choices about which bulls to use and which bull calves to keep entire. Lawrence's reports provide valuable information about the current genetic health of the breed and guidance as to choice of bulls.
Calves should have been registered by 31 January. If you have missed this date please get your registrations in ASAP. This can be done on-line by accessing the My Account feature on the website using your password, or alternatively you can download a registration form from the website - go to Society and then to Registrations and post the completed form to SCHBS, Shetland Rural Centre, Staneyhill, Lerwick, Shetland Isles ZE1 0NA, with payment. If registering on-line please post payment.
Another 19 year old gives birth
Benston Elsie, born 8 March, 1999, calved a heifer calf on 15 January, in Shetland, to The Point Jacobite.
The third Shetland calf in the Australian Zetralia herd was born in Gippsland, Victoria, on 7th January, to heifer Zetralia Alamootie. It was a bull. Alamootie displays her fine udder, a strong feature of the Shetland breed.
Shetland Herd in USA
It has been confirmed that three of the cows implanted with Shetland embryos in Texas on 4 December are in calf. Shetland embryos and semen were shipped to the USA in August last year, to start the first Shetland herd in that country. Six Aberdeen Angus cows were prepared as recipients. At the time of implanting, one recipient was not quite ready and was passed over on the day. It is usual for up to a third of prepared recipients to be rejected at the time of implanting. Three of the five cows implanted are now confirmed in calf. All being well, bouncing Shetland calves should be expected next September!
FAnGR Committee Newsletter Winter 2017
The FAnGR (Farm Animal Genetic Resources Committee) advises DEFRA and the Devolved administrations on issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of farm animal genetic resources. The Winter 2017 newsletter has been released.
The FAnGR works with DEFRA to update the UK National Breed Inventory of all farm animals resident in the UK (other than poultry). This shows how breed populations are changing over time and can help identify status, trends and potential threats.
The estimated population of registered breeding female Shetlands, updated on 23 August, 2017, was 636. This is an increase from 551 in the last 2016 update. The number of new female registrations in 2016 was 214. The number of pedigree males registered in 2016 was 51, up from 40 in 2015. The number of herds which registered calves in 2015 was 74 - figures were not available for 2016. The updated inventory is now online at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-farm-animal-genetic-resources-fangr-breed-inventory-results.
If you wish to join the circulation list for the FAnGR newsletter please email email@example.com. The newsletter includes important information about native breeds, breeding and genetics, and regulations.
Vale Collafirth Rowan
23 March 1996 - 18 December 2017
Another Bull for Australia and USA
Semen from three-year-old Shetland bull Renwick Renoir has finally been cleared for export, after months of delay with his final blood tests. His semen is now ready to ship to Australia, Zimbabwe and the USA. Straws are available from the Semen Store, both for domestic use and export. He contributes frame, length, colour (grey) and exceptional temperament.
First All-Shetland Births in Australia
Two calves were born in Australia in September from Shetland sires and Shetland dams. They are the first calves to be born in Australia from two Shetland parents, joined naturally. In true Shetland style the births were fast, and despite great anticipation and vigilant observation no-one managed to see either birth. Both calves were up and sucking quickly and both heifer mothers, Zetralia Avelyn and Zetralia Aith, were relaxed and calm and allowed well-wishers to pat and handle their calves immediately. See below for more information about the Australian Zetralia herd.
Shetland Herd in Australia
Seven Shetland calves were born in Australia in early 2015 from embryos created in Scotland in 2013 and implanted in Ayrshire heifer surrogates in Australia in 2014. There are four heifers and three bulls. Photos of them can be seen in the Gallery. These are the only Shetland cattle outside the UK. The herd was established by Paddy Zakaria, a member of the SCHBS Management Committee, as an off-shore gene pool to secure the breed in the event of the loss of genetics in the UK. Shetland cattle have been taken out of the UK before, notably a breeding group taken to the Falkland Islands after the war, but there was no systematic plan to create a viable herd at that time and no members of this group have survived. Semen has been collected and shipped to Australia to ensure the diversity and viability of the new herd and the genetics now in Australia represent 93% of all the ancestors and founders of the breed. Additional semen collections will further improve the balance of the new gene pool. Zetralia Avelyn, mother of the first calf, can be seen back left in the photo, at 18 months old and Zetralia Aith, mother of the second calf, is in the foreground.
Dun Bull From Shetland
Dun bull Ocraquoy Haldor, 3.5 years old, has been sent from Shetland for a season of breeding on the mainland. The dun colour is still rare in Shetland cattle. Haldor is a fine example and has a very placid temperament. His dam, Hestataing Amber, was a well-known prize winner in Shetland in her younger days and is still breeding successfully at the age of 15. A dun heifer calf of Haldor's appears below.
Another 19 Year Old Calves Successfully
Ustaness Gunna, 19 years old in April 2017, gave birth to a lively bull calf on 17 August. Gunna arrived from Shetland into the Fleet herd in Rogart, Sutherland, at the age of 17, for a well-deserved retirement in slightly gentler climes than her homeland. She has, however, showed no inclination to slow down and has produced two calves since, first a heifer, Fleet Moon, and now a bull, Fleet Climper. She is sound and healthy in all respects and is expected to calve again in 2018.
Cunningsburgh Show, Shetland, 2017
Best Calf - Collafirth Hamish, sire Ocraquoy Haldor, dam Collafirth Babbie
Supreme Cattle Champion - Collafirth Babbie
Shetland Beef Biltong Award
Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food to encourage and mentor artisan food producers, have announced their 2017 award winners, after a judging process lasting from March till July and involving 500 judges from all over the world. These awards are the "Oscars" of the food world and the "epicurean equivalent of the Booker Prize". Paul and Becky Newman keep the Newmans herd of Shetland cattle in the hills above Aberfeldy in Perthshire and run Errichel B&B and Thyme at Errichel Restaurant. This year they won several Great Taste awards for their produce and amongst these was the fine achievement of Two Stars for their Shetland Beef Biltong.
In May Paul and Becky also won the Scottish Land and Estates Award for Agri-Tourism. Their Shetland herd, which they use for milk as well as beef, is an important part of their business and creates interest amongst visitors on guided walks around their spectacular farm. Congratulations to all at Errichel for an excellent achievement and for promoting Shetland cattle!
Brindle Back in Shetland
Following a season of work in Shetland by the brindle bull St Trinians Balou in 2015, brindle cattle have reappeared in Shetland. A Shetland-born brindle son is already at work. Heifer Minarvi Maya, born in Shetland in 2016, displays some of Balou's distinctive striping.
Glachbeg Casper, a white bull calf, was born on 7 May. He has black ear tips, black eye surrounds and black horn buds. The photos show him with dirt on his face, at six weeks old. White Shetlands are nowadays unusual although in olden times they were common. His great grandsire, St Trinians Ghost, was another white bull. He can be seen in the Bulls album in the Gallery. Casper's sire is Renwick Renoir, seen in the news item above.
Shetland Genetics to Zimbabwe
A shipment of Shetland semen is currently planned for Zimbabwe, the relevant import permissions having been granted by the Zimbabwean authorities. This means there will be Shetland genetics in three continents - Africa, Australia and North America. Cattle were born in Australia, from embryos, in 2015 and Shetland embryos have been implanted in surrogate cows in the USA, with calves expected in September 2018. The semen for Zimbabwe will be shipped to beef farmer, Mr Canaan Gwete, who is looking to bring specific Shetland attributes to his herd of mainly Brahman cattle. He is hoping that the Shetland genetics will improve the milkiness, temperament and hardiness of his herd, and will also moderate the size. Photos below show some of Canaan's mixed herd and also his Brahman bull, grazing his farm west of Mutare in Zimbabwe. Watch for updates to this exciting venture.
7 April 2018: Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society AGM, Lerwick, Shetland. Venue TBC. As usual the meeting will be followed by a meal where attendees can socialise.