Prince Charles was visiting Wales this week, and while there pledged his support to the National Trust’s Save the Herd campaign. He was at Dinefwr Park in Llandeilo, and the herd concerned are the rare White Park Cattle. They have been at the park for many centuries; reference is made to a substantial herd of white cattle owned by the Lord of Dinefwr in the tenth century. The Prince of Wales donated towards the Trust’s target of £36,000 to buy new bull and cows; there are currently only about 750 breeding cows spread throughout the world which are registered, and DNA checked as being pure White Park Cattle.
The breed is an ancient breed of horned cattle which may well date back to the Roman times and beyond. There is a reference in the writings of Pliny to a sacrifice of two white bulls from around 43AD, and further indications from place-names, the island of Inishbofin of the coast of Connemara translates to being the island of the white cattle. It is quite possible that the breed originated in Ireland and then spread throughout the British Isles with trading and the movement of people.
In the early nineteenth century, there were around a dozen herds of White Park Cattle; however, since there has been a decline until the latter part of the twentieth century and the formation of the rare breeds trust. Currently in the UK, in addition to the herd at Dinefwr, there is a herd at Woburn and a smaller herd at a rare breed farm in Cambridgeshire.
As well as visiting Llandeilo, the Prince also visited Torfaen and saw the work of a charity on another subject close to his heart – climate change. The Prince saw the outreach work of the charity Size of Wales; the charity runs education programmes to teach children about the importance of rain forests and to help act to reverse Climate Change. Prince Charles met children from Blenheim Road Community Primary on one of the programmes and helped them plant a tree.