The native Jersey cows, all hail from pedigree stock imported from the Island of Jersey. There, the breed was protected from outside influence for over 200 years, resulting in the breed retaining original characteristics such as a light frame and lower weight than it’s counterparts in countries such as America where intensification has led to larger, heavier animals with larger udders. The native Jersey is a small, short-horned dairy cow, known for the high content of butterfat in its milk. Although the Jersey is not renowned for its meat due to its small size and lack of muscular development, in flavour and texture the beef is superior to many. Here at Waltham, we operate a closed herd, only buying in stock from the island of Jersey occasionally to replenish bloodlines. We have a Jersey bull named Copper Beech, who runs with the herd. Calves are not separated from their mothers, so family relationships can be observed within the group. Female calves join the dairy herd, whilst male calves are raised for beef. From time-to-time male calves may be selected for training as working oxen if they are deemed to have the required personality traits. To us, the cattle are essential to the farm’s biodynamic ethos, both for their role in building soil fertility and for the foods they provide. Butter, produced in the dairy, goes straight to the chef for use in the tearoom and our Jersey beef is used for the barbecue.
The Castlemilk Moorit sheep are descended from the original flock, bred by Sir Jock Buchanan-Jardine on his Scottish estate, during the early years of the twentieth century. By crossing moorit Shetland with Manx Loghtan and wild Mouflon, he developed a breed of delicate beauty to provide a fine, kemp free, pale brown moorit coloured wool. Upon the death of his successor, Sir John Buchanan-Jardine in 1970, the majority of the flock were culled though a few dispersed elsewhere, including six ewes and a ram which were bought by Joe Henson at the Cotswold Farm Park. All today’s Castlemilk Moorits, including those at Waltham Place, are descended from these few dispersed sheep. Smaller in size than commercial sheep breeds, mature ewes weigh approximately 40kgs, and mature rams around 55kgs. A horned breed, our ewes sport two symmetrical horns arching back behind the head. The rams have much thicker, heavier horns, spiralling backwards and round towards the front again. Though moorit brown in colour the fleece may reveal some sun bleaching. Faces are a darker shade of brown and most have definite mouflon pattern markings which may include: white around the eyes, lower jaw, belly, knees and inside the lower leg and tail together with a rump patch. Often mistaken for deer by visiting schoolchildren, the sheep and lambs blend seamlessly into the landscape. They are flighty and prone to scatter when herded. Yet they can be bucket trained, making handling them easier, particularly when moving from one field to another for fresh grazing. As with the cattle, females are retained to grow the flock whilst male lambs are raised for meat. Although small in size and slow growing, the meat is full of flavour and well worth the wait.