Ruscombe HerdRebecca Charley - Gloucestershire
Richard and I chose Red Polls for several reasons. Our criteria were: a rare breed; produces good beef; does well on good traditional mixed grasslands and preferably had no horns. The last point is obviously quite a limiting factor, although more breeds are moving that way now.
So back in the days of the Royal Show we took ourselves off on the rare breed showing day and spent quite a few hours watching the different breeds being paraded around the ring. We kept coming back to the Red Poll because they clearly had a quiet temperament and were reasonably easy to handle. They obviously produced a good amount of meat on their frame and they were lovely to look at.
Our decision was made and we have built up our herd from home bred animals, just changing the bull every few years. Our cattle are friendly, quiet and very easy to handle, ignoring the local dog walkers going through their fields. They graze some fantastic species rich calcareous grassland around the Stroud Valleys; our own and some for the National Trust and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. They are excellent conservation grazers and we are able to leave them out all year round. They finish well reaching 650kg with delicious tasting meat at the end. The locals love them and always know whose cattle they are because we are the only people with “red” animals, and many volunteer to help check them. A bonus for us.