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The Beasts

The Welsh Black

Welsh Black cattle had been brought up on 'desert grass'. so the valleys of the Midlands - the Welland Valley, the Nene Valley, Aylesbury Vale - must have seemed to them like heaven.  In fact, they probably put on weight in the course of the drove.

Philip Arrowsmith, who farms Welsh Blacks at Newbridge-on-Wye, says this:
  •  They are good milch cows (and milk = cheese = protein).
  •  They are strong enough to pull the plough more efficiently than a      Hereford twice the size.
  •  They are good, and prolific, mothers.  A dozen calves in a cow's  lifetime is not unusual.
  •  They are, above all, tractable.  They aren't likely to gore the farmer's  wife while he's at market.

The Welsh Blacks on the right are the result of careful breeding and excellent feed.  A beef steer will go to market at 600-650 kilos today, says Philip.  In Nelson's time it was 300 kilos*.  Long-legged skinny things, they must have been, a 'different beast altogether'.

They do panic easily, however.  One man spent three hours recovering his herd after a stampede; another I read about only gathered the beasts together after two weeks...

*In 1700 the figure was 175

The Beasts image 1
Welsh Blacks at Newbridge