News and Events
To all those who visit our website, from many different places around the world, this is just a reminder that we have a Facebook page as well, called Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society. If you have an interest in the breed you may enjoy seeing the discussions on the page, or you may like to interact with breeders.
Herd Profile No. 7. on SCHBS Website and Facebook Page
The latest Herd Profile, "Islesburgh" has just been posted on the SCHBS Facebook page (Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society) and also here on the website. Profiles can be viewed under the tab on the Home Page, labelled Shetland Cattle.
Update on Research into the Origins of Shetland Cattle
Earlier in the year the SCHBS was approached by a PhD student who asked if we would participate in her research by providing samples from a dozen Shetland cattle for DNA testing. The main aim of the investigation is to better understand the origins of cattle in the British Isles, through genetic assessment of native breeds from the British Isles and mainland Europe. The origins of the cattle are being unravelled, using an archaeogenomics/palaeogenomics perspective, analysing both modern samples and ancient samples of native cattle from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. The team will try to understand the cattle's origins and the genomic changes they've undergone since then. Samples of sufficiently unrelated cows were provided for the research. An update on this research tells us that the samples have been processed (DNA extracted and amplified) and they have been sent for the next stage of the procedure. We can expect results to be available in 4-5 months. We will post information as it comes. The findings will be shared with SCHBS when the research is completed.
Semen Store Update
The SCHBS Semen Store has recently implemented changes to improve its service to breeders. Scawfell Genetics has secured sole distributorship in the UK of a new design of small dry shipping tank which can be dispatched quickly and easily and SCHBS Semen Store can now ship semen direct to any address in the UK within 24 hours. Shipping charges for breeders wishing to purchase semen from the store are as below. Prices are inclusive of any number of bulls and straws, packing, delivery and return of the tank. Breeders should note, too, that Scawfell Genetics carries a wide range of semen from other breeds, native and commercial, and this can be ordered as well, for cross-breeding or other purposes. For further information see www.scawfellgenetics.com.
Breaking News - First Shetlands Born in USA
The first Shetland calf in the USA, born from embryos created in the UK, was born in Texas on 28 August. It was a red bull and was quickly followed by two red heifer calves, making a small herd of three Shetlands as the foundation of the breed in the USA. Although selective breeding practices last century have resulted in the majority of Shetlands in the UK being black and white, the three calves in the USA are red, due to the parentage of the embryos. It should be noted that this is not a typical colour spread. A representative herd could include black, red, dun, brindle, grey or white, and any of these colours could be solid or with white. See the Gallery for examples of the range of colours in the breed.
Zetralia Semen Collection
Semen has just been collected (September) from two of the Shetland bulls in Australia, born from embryos. They are Zetralia Apollo Bay and Zetralia Ardgay. These bulls are part of the small herd of Shetlands started in Australia in 2015 as the only off-shore gene pool for the breed (see News item below). While they were sired by the same bull, making them half-brothers, they each represent individual genetics through their dams who are widely separated, genetically. By doing this semen collection these genetics are secured and at any point in the future can be put back into the gene pool to keep it in balance. The Shetland breed has a small gene pool so the key is to see that all the genetics are always in use, and in balance. Building up a semen store in Australia will also assist with the growth of the herd once more breeders are keeping them.
Most breeders will be well into calving by now. 2018 calves need to be registered by 31 January, 2019, but please register as soon as you can to get your calves onto the database and to avoid a rush at the end of the year. You can register your calves online through the My Account feature on the website or you can download a Birth Notification Form from the website for posting www.schbs.co.uk/registrations. Thank you.
Semen Store Update
As has been reported in earlier items on this News page, semen was collected privately some years ago for the purposes of creating an off-shore herd and gene pool in Australia. More recently the SCHBS Semen Store was created and an amount of this export semen was made available to be sold through the store and for the establishment of a semen bank for security for the breed for the future. At the time the semen was collected it was not foreseen that there would be overseas demand for it beyond the Australian need but in fact this has happened, with interest from several different countries. The number of straws collected did not anticipate this. Following a recent appraisal of stocks of what remains in this country four of the export bulls have been withdrawn from sale through the store for the time being. Collecting semen which qualifies for export is costly and there is a limited number of bulls and straws available for sending overseas. Seven bulls are still available in the Semen Store and it is hoped that this will be increased with suitable new bulls that will be collected for domestic use.
Scotland's BVD Eradication Scheme
The BVD Advisory Group and Scottish Government have published some short videos to provide advice and information to cattle keepers about Scotland’s BVD eradication scheme. They are on a Youtube playlist for ease of access, and can be found at this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnJEBZSMkbKpWs8TIJhxWznuAPSHe97fo You can watch the short films in sequence or individually. As new videos and infographics are produced, the Scottish BVD Advisory Group will add them to the playlist.
The Marketplace Page on the website is now active. If you have cattle to sell or if you are looking for particular animals to buy please send the details, including photos, to the Secretary, Wendy Malcolmson, at email@example.com. We hope you make the page a success and that you find it useful.
Additional Shetland Herd in the USA
Discussions are underway with a farmer in Tennessee about establishing a further herd of Shetland cattle in the USA. The Shetlands will join a herd of rare Dutch Belted cattle, a dairy breed of similar type and size to the Shetland, dating back to the 1700s in the Netherlands. The Shetland herd will be used in a grass-fed dairy system. Watch this space for further updates.
The Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society AGM was held on Saturday, 7 April, at The Cornerstone in Scalloway. Despite absences due to weddings and birthdays 25 people attended the meeting and stayed for the meal afterwards where they socialised until late in the evening. Steph Ede, who has the Hollington herd of around 40 Shetlands, came up from Derbyshire to attend, accompanied by her seven-year-old son Alastair, and was welcomed by all.
SCHBS 2010 Centenary Books - grab copies while still available!
In 2010 the SCHBS celebrated the centenary of the Herd Book. An A4 sized hard cover book of 232 pages, "A Pictorial Daander Trowe Shetland's Crofting Culture" was published to commemorate the event. It was written by Shetlanders and celebrates the life and lifestyle of Shetland's crofters, with the Shetland cow central to this. It is a wonderful read and record for anyone interested in the Shetland cow and Shetland life, and is full of photos of both current and historical animals and people. It is a limited edition and is already a collector's piece.
Also in the same year, the annual Herd Book was made a special edition to celebrate the centenary. As well as providing details of calves registered in that year, the book includes a profile of all the herds in the UK that bred and registered pure Shetland calves in 2010. Sixteen herds in Shetland and fifty-seven mainland and Irish herds appear in the book.
There are a few copies left of both of these books and they are for sale from SCHBS at £20 each. Enquiries can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.