Ten Sussex cattle from one of the largest traditional herds in the country will soon be grazing on Spanish soil following an export deal between two farmers.
Ten Sussex cattle – nine heifers and one bull (plus one Longhorn heifer) - will be shipped from Withyham to western Spain, from Lord De La Warr’s Buckhurst Estate in East Sussex to Julio Grande’s 5,000 hectare farm in Salamanca.
The Buckhurst Estate, the location of the ‘100 acre wood’ immortalised in AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, has about 50 purebred Sussex breeding cows.
The number of breeding cattle is now so low that it is at a level the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considers ‘critical’.
Lord De La Warr said: “They have already proved popular in New Zealand, North America and South Africa – but it’s fantastic to now see them head to Spain. It is the first time we have sold any cattle abroad.”
Mr Grande plans to establish a pure breed herd, plus cross some of the animals with other breeds to explore opportunities for hybrid vigour.
According to the land agent at Buckhurst, Mark Weaver of CLM, the estate has a proud heritage of innovation.
“The Sussex cattle enterprise represents a coming together of the traditional and the modern,” he said.
“It is utilising a breed with roots dating back many centuries into a progressive 21st Century farming system.
“In the post-Brexit era, as subsidies for direct agricultural production fall and disappear, so farmers and landowners will have to come up with new, market-focused ways to generate revenue.
“A few years ago, there was a lot of focus on Continental breeds such as Charolais, but now the day of the native breeds could again be coming and breeds such as the Sussex could be set for a renaissance.”