Welsh Black cattle

The ‘Rosuick’ herd of Organic Pedigree Welsh black cattle is located on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. As well as grazing large areas of heathland our farm comprises of a variety of long- and short-term grass leys, woodland pasture and clover rich swards. Most cattle are out wintered, fed on bales of hay and strip grazed on stubble turnips through the winter.

Welsh Black cattle are perfectly suited to this range of habitats. Different cattle breeds have differing effects on rough grassland. As one of our Native breeds of cattle Welsh Blacks are more adapt at eating rough grassland, putting on weight and maintaining condition for production, compared with commercial breeds.
Their thick coats of hair keep them warm on the winter months and their strong body minimises health issues when grazing rough terrain. Our low input to medium output farming system requires animals to be low maintenance and convert the feed they are given efficiently.

We currently run a Pedigree herd of around 70 breeding cows which graze several areas of heathland across the lizard peninsula. We have been breeding polled animals (bred without horns) for around 15 years. Nearly all of our herd is now genetically polled. Being polled reduces the work load and stress on us as farmers and on the animals themselves although we do not exclusively breed polled animals as sometimes we chose horned bulls for other genetic traits.

Apart from buying a new bull every few years to ensure fresh genetics we keep a completely closed herd. We pick our best young heifers to keep or sell for breeding and most of the other young stock are sold at market as stores. Each year we do select a few animals to fatten on farm. These are fed 100% grass and the meat kept for ourselves or sold locally as meat boxes.
If you are interest in purchasing breeding stock from us please get in touch to discuss your needs.

We normally have one or two Pedigree Welsh black stock bulls on the farm. The last few years we have also had a Charolaise Bull. The reason for having a white Charolaise bull is to take advantage of the added highbred vigour which enables young animals to grow faster.

The Charolaise is very effective at colour marking all the calves which makes management of the pedigree herd simpler. As you can see from the pictures, the calves are either black and therefore from our pedigree Black bull or a light grey which means they are crossbred.

Cattle grazing to help the environment

Cattle play an essential role to managing grasslands and heathland effectively. Whilst horses can be used in certain scenarios to graze heathland, we believe that where possible it is more sustainable practice to use cattle which are in turn producing food for our growing population. Sheep are occasionally used to graze heathland as they have similar grazing patterns to horses.

Cattle do two things main things when grazing; they eat and remove the vegetation which allows the less competitive plants, such as many wildflowers, to grow alongside the more competitive plants. Many grasses are good competitors and without grazing they often become tufted and can grow tall, shading wildflowers and preventing them from being able to harness the sun for photosynthesis. This effectively starves the plant and they are unable to survive.

The second thing that livestock do is remove the thatch (dead grass and leaves) that gets trapped between the grasses and flowers covering the soil. Some thatch may be eaten by livestock when they munch through living vegetation, but they also help by trampling the ground and creating patches of bare soil between the grass tufts moving the thatch aside. All wildflower and grass seeds need to be in contact with bare ground to germinate and establish a root system. Thatch prevents this from occurring, but livestock encourage germination by removing this build-up of dead material.