Farm Ireland

Saturday 16 February 2019

Queen's cattle kept away from Highland shows amid disease fears

Cattle stand in a field on the Queen's Balmoral Estate. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Cattle stand in a field on the Queen's Balmoral Estate. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

In the world of Highland cattle she is regarded, one might say, as the reigning champion.

The Queen has been proudly raising Highland cows at her Balmoral estate for 65 years - and has repeatedly won prizes across the country for the quality of her livestock.

But this year, Her Majesty's animals have been conspicuous by their absence, as none of them has appeared at any of this year's Highland shows.

And the reason why is that the Queen is afraid that her beloved herd might become infected by disease. The stockman responsible for the royal herd has revealed that the queen's cows have been kept away from the shows amid health fears - as she feels the risks of mingling with other livestock is simply too great this year.

Dochy Ormiston said: "We have not entered any shows this year. We are a closed herd and we are very frightened over its health status."

The Queen founded the Balmoral fold of Highland cattle in 1953 and is considered one of the country's top Highland breeders, with more than 50 animals on the estate.

Winning prizes with individual cows and bulls attracts prestige, prize money and can increase the value of an animal enormously.

The monarch, who is patron of the Highland Cattle Society (HCS), has been a regular prize winner with her cattle. Former HCS president Angus MacKay said it was 'a bit sad' that the monarch's cattle were missing from this year's show.

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He added: 'I can understand why. She is extremely knowledgeable about the breed and about her own fold and how it developed. She would have certainly been involved in the decision not to show them.

"Breeders can take advantage of the demand from overseas if they have a high health herd."

Mr Mackay, who lives at Achnagoul in Argyll, said Balmoral had exported regularly over many years - including to Germany, Austria and even Australia, decades back.

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